Thursday, June 16, 2005

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

P.J. and the Bull

If you've been reading his blog, Forum Blue and Gold, you'll know that Kurt is enjoying the return of coach Phil Jackson to his Lakers. But with that return has come the inevitable questions on Phil's true ability as a coach. I guess winning 9 championships isn't enough, so to further quell the critics Kurt goes back to the '93-'94 season, when Jackson coached up a Michael-less Bulls team to 55 wins and one bogus foul call away (curse you Hugh Hollins!) from the Eastern Conference Finals.

Read it and remember an interesting year in Bulls history. I know I was but a youngin back then, which is probably why my thoughts go to Scottie Pippen when regarding that season instead of Phil. But no doubt it proved at least he could have success with only one superstar instead of his customary two. Maybe the same will happen with Kobe:

The Eastern Conference of those Bulls was not as deep as the West the Lakers will have to face next year, and 55 wins is a mighty long way up. But better defense and some roster moves to bring in rebounders and defenders will move the Lakers back toward the league’s elite. It may take a few years, but a direction to build a team in the mold of the early 90s Bulls (with Kobe in the Jordan role) is what I think we’ll see.

I never really had much of an opinion on Jackson outside the norm: that he was a good coach with some great talent. Nevermind the fact that there are great teams every year that don't win the title (think Phil could've sent some of those Kings teams to a finals or two?), his stature in my mind grew even more after reading 'The Jordan Rules':

as described in the afterward section of the book, Phil Jackson would serve as the 'hero' in this story. His ability to come from basketball obscurity (an underrated Krause move) to accomplish with his team what former coach Doug Collins couldn't gave him this 'hero' title. Jordan's relationship with Jackson was always tense yet respectful, as Jackson tried to get Jordan to share the ball more in the team's now-famous triangle offense. This attempt to curtail Jordan within the offense did not always work, but, as Bulls fans can remember, came through in the title-clinching game when Jordan repeatedly found an open John Paxson who drove many a nail in the Lakers' coffin.

Today, Sam Smith (author of The Jordan Rules) went more in-depth to the roots of Phil Jackson:

This could be something of a rebirth for Jackson. Before those nine championships with the Bulls and Lakers and his record number of playoff victories, Jackson was a coach, not a Zenmaster. He loved the CBA, loved coaching in Puerto Rico. He long has savored that 1993-94 Bulls season when Jordan first left and the Bulls won 55 games. Yes, he would like that 10th title, but he's not really a philosopher and professor.

My Man Sam(tm) hits it right on the head here, cutting through Phil's extraordinary skill in handling egos to reveal the fact that the guy was first a coach through-and-through. He wasn't a former all-star that got his job by reputation (like Doc Rivers or Mo Cheeks), he worked and earned his place in the league.

I think people are already caught up in that notion of a 10th championship. I'm sure the slower-witted of that group thinks that if it doesn't come in this final coaching term he'll be outted as a fraud. But I am optimistic that while a championship may not come (the Spurs will have a lot to say about that, you know), Phil will have his Lakers competitive again, and that's a confidence that few coaches around the league can inspire.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Thoughts, interrupted watching Darko actually play

  •  My Man Sam(tm) wasn't making much sense this weekend:
    Forget whoever wins this NBA Finals series being the world champion.

    The world continues to catch up with the NBA, as was evident when Game 1 ended Thursday night with the San Antonio Spurs beating the Detroit Pistons 84-69 and Argentinian Manu Ginobili the best and most exciting player on the floor.

    Wouldn't the ongoing internationalization of the NBA make the league champ more valid as world champion? I'd chalk it up to a mistake but he goes with a similar statement at the end of the column.

    Whatever, just found it odd, and the whole Olympic thing was on my mind after I commented on Crazy from the Heat regarding the same subject. In case you care what I think, original thoughts were posted in a much-longer rant back in February of 2004. (this reminds me, 2-year blog-iversary is approaching fast!)

  • Want Finals blogging? I am watching the series but don't really have much to say. Basically, in my mind the Spurs have been the best team in basketball the past 3 seasons, and if one Derek Fisher 3-pointer goes down this could be a 3-peat for the Spurs. They're just in a different class right now. For Spurs blogging, go to Spurs Blog and Spur of the Moment. For the now-reeling defending champs, check out Motoring Pistons. Corey Petryschuk now writes there, ditching his site at blogspot, another good 'get' for MVN. And I just added his old link to the site, damnit...
  • As far as the talk of this Finals being ABC's nightmare with the low-scoring games, I could care less if 'Joe NASCAR' wants to come back to the NBA for the first time since Jordan or not. These are the two best teams from each conference, and that's what the Finals are about, not ratings. I am no scientician, but I would assume that a particular year's Neilsen Rating has little effect on the overall health of the league (not saying that prolonged poor ratings isn't going to hurt). Now on the topic of whether these finals are actually boring, I ranted a bit on that as well over at Rising Suns. Also be sure to check out this column by J.A. Adande (via Off-Wing Opinion), which I think outstandingly addresses the 'problem'.
  • Darko didn't do anything of interest, maybe because he himself acted disinterested. In his defense though it was garbage time, I wouldn't be interested much either. Or maybe I'm just a Darko apologist.
  • I have just set a record for linking myself writing at other sites. I don't know if that counts as a real post, but why should my thoughts be restricted to readers of a different site :-)
  • Carnival of the NBA #11 will be hosted at The End of the Bench. So again, if you have read or written anything that you feel the rest of the basketball blogosphere should pay attention to, send all posts to Joey.