Phil Jackson has been busy this past year — getting engaged, almost getting to run a Seattle franchise, actually getting to run the Knicks franchise and more.
With that he updated his latest autobiography, 11 Rings — which you should have read already anyway so now you just need to read the updated part.
In it Jackson talks about how the fractured Kobe Bryant/Dwight Howard relationship ended up being what killed any shot of a Howard return to the Lakers.
The Lakers invited Kobe and Steve (Nash) to the final pitch meeting to help persuade Dwight to come on board. It sounded like a good idea. Steve sent out an amusing tweet before the meeting: “Dwight Howard we’re coming for you. You’re going to love the statue we build for you outside Staples in 20yrs!” And Kobe made a moving speech during the pitch, promising to teach Dwight the secret of winning championships that he’d learned from the best in the game.
If the meeting had ended there, it might have worked. But after the presentation, Dwight asked Kobe what he was planning to do after he recovered from his Achilles injury. Was this going to be his last year? “No,” replied Kobe. “I’m planning to be around for three or four more years.”
At that point, according to others in the room, Dwight’s eyes went blank and he drifted away. In his mind, the game was over.
There’s a lot more in this excerpt — Jackson talks about the Lakers discussions in hiring him and how he is pretty sure Mike D’Antoni was a Jim Buss not Jerry Buss call, how things ended with Dr. Buss, his engagement, his dalliance with the failed bid to bring a team to Seattle, and more. It’s worth a read.
But the other part I found most interesting was his take on the current CBA and it’s impacts.
It tightened up teams spending and has led to increased player movement, which has led to increased off-season player movement and interest from fans. The NBA has a real “hot stove league” now that fans are eating up.
However, Jackson says this comes at the expense of team building.
Sadly, what inevitably is getting lost in this shift is a sense of continuity over time. Not only will the new agreement make it virtually impossible for teams — no matter how fat their wallets — to assemble lineups with more than two or three bona fide stars, it will also significantly reduce the number of players who can play the bulk of their careers on the same team. When I was with the Knicks, most of the key players on our championship teams — including Bill Bradley, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, and Dave DeBusschere — were together for six years or more. That may never happen again. Instead we’re going to see a lot of teams made up of one or two stars and a cast of interchangeable specialty players on short-term contracts. As a result, it will be even more difficult to build the kind of group consciousness necessary to excel. The only remedy is to create a culture that empowers the players and gives them a strong foundation to build upon. Otherwise they’ll be too insecure to focus their energy on bonding together as a team.