Phil wasn't impressed with Kobe's shooting practice after the Heat loss. Today, before the Dallas game he told John Ireland that in retirement he wanted to introduce musicals on HDNet for Mark Cuban (Maverick owner and owner of HD Net plus in a running verbal combat with Phil). These are two sides of Phil Jackson. This guy is complex and has more sides than a Rubik's cube has combinations. But that is what makes Phil unique. He remains calm (or as some call it Zen like) while providing provocative responses to questions that often make him appear aloof, somewhat arrogant, and supremely self confident. We wouldn't him any other way. His main talent as a coach is his ability to lead, motivate, or guide egos and attitudes. He knows when to poke Kobe and when to lift him up. He seems to know when to criticize in public (see Ron Artest) and privately (see Kobe again). No matter what he is one of the main players in our current soap opera version of the Lakers. He is Clint Eastwood or the guy who directs the movie and stars in it. His presence takes up as much room as any Laker, even Kobe. The entertainment and interest level of the Lakers would be lower if Phil wasn't around and guess what, he won't be next year.
Phil's departure is part of the Lakers' transition and the reason they need to make some major changes after this year. Despite Bynum's big game tonite against Dallas, I think the Lakers should continue to make a run at Superman Dwight Howard when he is available and Bynum would get the most interest for any trade to free up cap space and get role players. So, while making the changes to get the right players, there is a need for the right chemistry and the coach plays a huge role. You see, Phil doesn't always believe in chemistry. He believes in perspective. If each player knows the system, understands his role, and plays his part, the Lakers cannot be stopped. However, when one of them lose focus, Phil adjusts their perspective, getting them to understand what they need to do for the team to win. Notice how Bynum whined a little about not getting the ball and then all of sudden began getting rebounds, playing defense, and not shooting much. The Lakers won and he dominated. See, Phil showed him perspective. The same way he gave perspective to Ron Artest after his feelings were hurt when Phil criticized him publicly. Hey, Phil never asked to be liked and I don't think he attends many current or former players birthday parties, but he does win.
So why is team chemistry going to be important after Phil leaves? It is because Phil is leaving. No coach today with the possible exception of Coach K at Duke could come in and lead this bunch with the right swagger and not really being concerned about the players focus without a thought of chemistry. So, do we hand the keys to Brian Shaw or look for a big name assistant? BShaw would definitely be a good fit as the players know him and respect him, but that is as an assistant coach. Can he coach the number one NBA franchise day in and day out with success? Do we want to find out?
I don't want to find out...too many years of Mike Dunleavy, Randy Pfund, Del Harris, and Rudy T makes me believe that Dr. Buss may feel the same way, Let's keep the show moving forward. If you make a run at Dwight Howard and get him. You are going to need a respected coach that both Kobe and Dwight can accept. It's not Jeff Van Gundy or any current coach. If it is not Phil than what about Coach K?
Coach K doesn't have anything more to prove in college. He proved this summer that he can coach the pros (grant it he had good guys like Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Lamar Odom, Russell Westbrook and Chauncey Billups). But we know Kobe respects him and that is pretty much the battle. Once Kobe supports the leader, the rest of the team follows. That would be the same with Dwight Howard. He wants to win a championship and be thought of as a great center like Wilt, Russell, Kareem, Duncan (or PF), Hakeem, and Shaq. Be part of the Lakers and he should be on his way.
How do you entice Coach K? Send Kobe to his house everyday for a month? Coach K will quickly become annoyed at Kobe's arrogance, overconfidence, ultra competitive personality, and drive. Pretty much it would be like becoming annoyed with himself because those traits while not so great when playing Uno with the family are terrific attributes for an NBA coach and player.
The only hangup might be the dollars. That is something that no fan can help with except to plead with Dr. Buss to follow his usual great instincts and work on getting Dwight Howard and Coach K.
So to recap the last few blogs written here...Kobe is better than LeBron and shouldn't be compared to MJ. The Lakers should make a run at Dwight Howard when he becomes a free agent and consider moving Andrew Bynum to help with cap space/obtain role players. Finally, Coach K should coach the Lakers. Pretty easy, right? Well, probably not, but we got Shaq when it seemed impossible. We traded for Wilt when he seem untouchable. Pau was a steal. Kareem cost us decent talent that never really panned out after the trade (sorry Brian Winters). The list goes on and on. For the Lakers nothing is impossible, but with their rich history, instead of waiting to hire coaches who will fizzle out or not spend on certain free agents only to see LA bounced in the first round of the playoffs, let's move now and work to stay on top. Boston did it for years and the Lakers have done it. Let's run this thing a little like the Patriots or Steelers, make the cuts or changes just before it is too late. Always stay a step ahead.
Next up, who comes out of the West to the finals?