Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Lakers, Buss Family Must Break Relationship with Phil Jackson
In a town where celebrities enhance their popularity by appearing in the next glamorous movie or releasing a top album with phenomenal vocals, it’s almost ridiculous that citizens residing in Hollywood embrace overexposed celebrities.
In my judgment, the timing couldn’t be better to anoint Phil Jackson as the greatest coach in NBA history, after all we are in an age where people rave so much about Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus and we hear the bizarre voice of Lady Gaga take over radio airwaves.
As much as I’m curious to know why the Dodgers’ center fielder hasn’t dumped that Rihanna loser, I’d like to read the minds of the Buss family, as I am wondering why the Lakers’ organization has endorsed and stood by a petulant Phil Jackson.
Honestly, he has evoked a soft appearance on the sideline, exploiting an inadequate psychological approach and whistling for mental toughness and aggressiveness from an inert team, instead of signaling for a timeout when it is necessary to calm the team and provide rhythm to a complacent group on the floor.
The state of the Los Angeles Lakers is anything but cohesive and flawless, and even more so, they are vulnerable of collapsing prematurely as competition becomes stiffer. The defending champs evolved into a careless and lethargic franchise, fading out of contention with a soft and passive productivity.
If the Lakers win another NBA championship, the franchise will possess its 16th banner inside its luxurious venue as Jackson secures an 11th coaching title, on behalf of the bottomless and talented core.
In reality, he’s the reason for the Lakers recent struggles in what is suddenly morphing into a crisis. He’s the symbolism of L.A. sports, the one coach everyone admires heavily for uplifting an entire community when he arrived in California.
Amid the late stages of his magnificent coaching career, he has no intentions of fleeing the beautiful lifestyle and landscapes, staring at the Santa Monica pier, gazing at the refreshing sunset as well as the Hollywood sign.
And he’s thrilled to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy with his players in June, a time when the purple and gold confetti usually falls from the rafters at Staples Center. But the perfect time to part ways is now.
The truth is, Jackson is no longer the assessable voice that the Buss family needs to evaluate his status in the next year.
Even though the average Lakers supporter grasps a sense that he’ll not return next season, Jackson may not retire. In many ways, it might be hard to be aloof from a profession that he has devoted much of his life in, becoming accustomed to the frequent road traveling and mentoring and enlightening the minds of players from several generations. Yet even if he has led the Lakers to its fourth title last decade, he’s not reaching standards as a coach, stumbling in a number of games this season alone.
There was a point during his career when he demanded and manipulated his teams to play with tenacity and a sense of urgency, but with health concerns, including two hip replacements, he has minimized his coaching agenda. There’s enough evidence to advise the organization that a coaching change is needed by next season. That will probably happen eventually, if Jackson doesn’t retire under his own power.
Perhaps it isn’t easy to terminate a good friend and legendary coach with a long tenure, particularly when he’s the significant other of Jeanie, owner Jerry Buss’ daughter. And it’s understandable that he has built a strong and close relationship with the family, but in the meantime, the ownership must realize that there's more to operating a functional business then pacifying a satisfied crowd.
From his hippie era spent in New York during the ‘70s to America’s greatest sports town, Chicago, to the bright lights in Hollywood, he has been welcomed and appreciated at every basketball address. He could have finished his journey atop all NBA coaches a year ago, but instead announced to the Lakers’ faithful that he was returning and aiming for his 11th championship. Is he the greatest coach ever, or has he simply had the privilege coaching superstars who were surrounded with a stud supporting cast?
It’s a rhetorical question, given that he knows his resume revolves around the most dominant player ever in Michael Jordan, the most dominant center ever in Shaquille O’Neal, and arguably the greatest guard ever in Kobe Bryant.
In the midst of the Shaq and Kobe feud, he was fired by the Lakers, after which he wrote a book ripping Kobe and referring to him as a cancer. Phil confessed that he tried to coax the ownership to trade Kobe, bitter with his selfishness and arrogant demeanor.
But a year ago, they smiled together and exchanged hugs as Kobe and Phil reunited by amassing another title and repairing an unsteady relationship. Each season, Jackson survives and compiles enough wins to seize a remarkable legacy with the aid of superstars. Embraced as a premier coach in pro sports, he became the first head coach to reach a pinnacle with 10 championships, surpassing Red Auerbach of the Celtics.
Meanwhile the struggles in Lakerland are more evident when Bryant doesn’t fuel the spectators at the dullest venue in the NBA and when he isn’t haven’t a scoring surge known as the Kobe Show.
Lately, he’s not the game’s best closer, and he obviously hasn’t overcome his abundance of ailments when he shot 8-23 Sunday in the Lakers’ 91-88 loss to Portland. The ominous response leaves bleak scares in Los Angeles that have yet to vanish as the Lakers lost six of their last nine games.
Since then, the chances of winning back-to-back championships have dwindled, with all the oddity, apathy, and inconsistency that has unfolded in previous weeks.
It’s really amazing that the Lakers have convenient excuses to defend their failures. The finger has been pointing directly at the overpaid bust, Andrew Bynum, who’s sidelined with a strained Achilles tendon, or at the crazy personality and temperamental demeanor of Ron Artest.
But in reality, the Lakers are a tough, driven team, based on momentum and critical structure, a tactic Jackson used to mold within his players.
He’s obviously one of the greatest coaches in NBA history on paper, but sometimes it fair to suggest that he just had great superstars. For a long time the Lakers haven’t played as efficient. For a long time, the Zen Master hasn’t called timeouts.
After six months of inconsistency and seeing the talent submerge, it can all be contributed to paltry coaching. Sorry, but it’s time to terminate Phil.