Phil Jackson may have walked away from basketball, but he’s still got some duties to perform.
At the Hall of Fame inductions on Aug. 12, Jackson is going to be a busy man. He has been asked to be the presenter for both Tex Winter, his long-time assistant coach, and Dennis Rodman, a former player of Jackson’s with the Bulls.
Rodman rose to prominence at the heart of he “Bad Boy” Pistons, and that team’s coach Chuck Daly might have been Rodman’s first choice if Daly were still with us. But there is a real connection between Jackson and Rodman from the Bulls era as well — Jackson called Rodman the greatest pure athlete he ever coached.
Tex Winter is best remembered as Jackson’s assistant coach and offensive guru, but he had a legendary career before that. He literally wrote the book on the triangle offense, an offense run at all levels of the game. Before that he was a top college coach (he took Kansas State to the Final Four twice and was national coach of the year).
These kinds of moments suit Jackson and his stature in the game. Being on the sidelines does not any more, he didn’t seem to have that same fire last season.
The induction ceremony takes place Aug. 12 in Springfield, Mass., at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
I’m not sure how this is surprising to anyone.
In an article discussing how an extended lockout could impact Kobe Bryant’s assault on the record books, Mark Medina at the Los Angeles Times wrote about how Kobe really wants to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list even though Kobe denies it at every opportunity.
But not many believed him, including Phil Jackson. When I asked the former Lakers coach last season which player Bryant wants to pass on the scoring list the most, Jackson replied without hesitation, “Michael Jordan.” Bryant argued that wasn’t true and continued touting his sole motivation entails trying to minimize the gap between Bill Russell’s 11 NBA titles and his own five. Bryant isn’t lying when he says that’s his main motivation, but it’s misleading to act indifferent about it when teammates, media and the general public know he’s driven to be the best player ever.
For the record, Jordan is third on the all-time regular season scoring list with 32,292 points. Kobe is eighth on the list 4,424 behind him. At the rate Kobe has scored the last five seasons, it would take a little more than two seasons for Kobe to move past him. Even if Kobe’s scoring dips with age some, this is a reachable goal in three seasons.
Not sure any of this is new to anyone who has been a basketball fan the last decade. Whether he wanted to or not, Kobe will never be able to escape the comparisons to Jordan, or escape the shadow. Kobe welcomes that, for him it is just another goal, another mountain to climb.
What Kobe really shares with Jordan is competitive fire and work ethic. Both need to be the alpha male on a team — when rookie Kobe joined the Lakers he used to challenge all his veteran teammates to games of one-on-one to prove he could beat them. When Team USA went to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, other star teammates were amazed at how hard Kobe worked at his game and in the weight room.
But in Jordan Kobe is not just competing against the arguable GOAT, but a growing legend. Jordan has become almost unassailable in people’s minds. His stature as an icon and as still one of the most popular people in American sport remains. And that is impossible to top, even for Kobe.
Brian Shaw has a reason to gripe. He waited and waited for the chance to become the Lakers’ head coach after Phil Jackson retired. He sat through two near-retirements from Jackson. He coached the team when health problems prevented the Zen Master from being able to. He got to know the players, earned their respect and support. He got along with management, didn’t make a fuss. Oh, yeah, and he helped them win championships. So getting passed over for the job after it was considered to be a lock as his, that understandably upset him. And he’s let it be known.
Shaw went on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles Friday and talked about how the interview process went down. Shaw found out about not getting the job from ESPN, not the Lakers. Ouch. He didn’t talk to anyone from the Lakers organization until three weeks later. Ouch.
Then Shaw revealed what’s been widely reported. Without saying it explicitly or naming names, Shaw talked about how Jim Buss has taken control of the franchise, saying how the “power(s) that were making decisions, felt team needed a change of culture, new voice, head in new direction.”
Shaw naturally felt a little edgy at that considering, you know, 12 years, 7 Finals, 5 rings with him on board. He all but said “Jim Buss came in and threw his weight around, tossed out everyone associated with Phil and it wasn’t Mitch Kupchak or Jerry Buss’s fault. Shaw said that Jerry Buss called him to talk to him. No such call from Jim Buss.
The future of the Lakers will always be bright. They have the most money, the best market, the most success, it’s cool to play for the Lakers. But the way this new regime has started has to make Lakers fans jittery to a certain degree. This is not how things should be done, even if the decision was sound.
Just a few years back, Brian Shaw got the chance to interview to be the head coach of the Indiana Pacers. Didn’t work out, they went with Jim O’Brien instead.
Now, Shaw is back in Indiana interviewing, but this time to be the lead assistant for Frank Vogel.
That’s what Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star tweeted. Shaw will meet with Vogel and Larry Bird about the position.
Shaw has been the lead assistant for Phil Jackson the last two years in Los Angeles and has been on the staff there since 2004 (he worked as a scout for the team for a couple years before moving to the bench). He has been knocking on the door of getting a head coaching job for years, interviewing a lot of places but never being the guy who gets the job.
Shaw could be a good fit, he brings a new perspective and some quality playoff experience to Vogel’s staff. Shaw was well liked by Lakers players — Kobe Bryant and others pushed for him to get the Lakers coaching job but Jim Buss wanted to rid the organization of all things Jackson.
Remember all the drama about whether Donnie Walsh was going to have the extension on his contract picked up or be let go by the Knicks? Then it turned out he didn’t have the extension picked up because they planned to give him a new deal instead?
Except, he’s been on the job without a contract as the details never got worked out.
Well, it did finally get worked, according to Peter Vecsey with the New York Post.
Because the give and take was not completed until last week, I’m informed. Late changes were made by Walsh and approved by Dolan. Once Camp Cablevision’s required “six signatures” (I don’t think my source was being facetious) are on the dotted line, apparently sometime this week, the deal will be done, if not publicized.
Clearly, the new arrangement will give Walsh the control to finish the Knicks’ renovation the way he sees fit. If there was any uncertainty about that it would have demonstrated Dolan did not want him back. That would have shoved Walsh into retirement.
As we said before, Walsh hasn’t been perfect but he did get the team on solid financial footing while reworking the roster into one that actually made he playoffs. He deserved the chance to continue on the job.
The return of Walsh means Mike D’Antoni is safe as coach for now. Although, predicting anything within the Knicks can be a fool’s errand. Phil Jackson will not return to coach at the Garden, but expect tons of speculation about it if the Knicks struggle or don’t play enough defense.