Is LA Big Enough For Lebron James AND LaVar Ball?

Image result for lavar ball lebron james

Is Los Angeles big enough for the two of them?

It seems like we can’t go more than a few days without a story about the possibility of Lebron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers next season as a free agent.  As the story goes, he has houses here, the entertainment business is here, and winning a title with a third team in LA will add to his legacy, yada yada yada.  And though not a good team, we’re told the Lakers will also sign Paul George and make other moves to make the team more championship ready for the King.

Setting aside the fact that the Lakers would still have ground to gain on other loaded western conference teams, and LBJ would be giving up his eastern conference gravy train to the finals (although Boston is a coming), there is one little factoid not being talked about.

The side-show that is LaVar Ball.  Why on Earth would LBJ want to subject himself to that?  Oh, maybe LaVar will promise Lebron he’ll slide into the background if he signs with the Lakers.  You know, like how Ball promised Magic Johnson.  We see how that has worked out.  This man is quiet for n-o-b-o-d-y.

Who is LaVar going to blame if things are going badly?  Right now it’s Coach Luke Walton.  Maybe it will continue to be Walton or whoever else might replace him at some point.

But what if Ball started blaming James?  What if Ball jumps on the bandwagon of James’ critics, and questions James for his leadership?  Ability to close a game?  Clutch foul shooting?  Or infers that any of these thoughts are coming from the team?

Again I ask, why on Earth would Lebron want expose himself to the LaVar Ball circus?  James has legitimate critics out there, but Ball, if history were to hold to form, would not be one of them.  But he might get more attention for it than any of them.  Walton doesn’t deserve L. Balls yapping now, and James certainly wouldn’t deserve it later.

I mentioned the word legacy in the first paragraph.  In case you haven’t noticed legacy is something that is important to Lebron.  See how Lebron clapped back at Charles Barkley when Barkley made unflattering comments about him.  Lebron wasn’t going to let Sir Charles “disrespect his legacy”.  Nor was LBJ going to stand for it when Phil Jackson referred to his inner circle as “his posse”.  Further, LaVar has already irritated Lebron with his comments about Lebron’s children.  James was well justified in response.

And what if Lebron comes to the Lakers and they win?  When Lebron has won in Cleveland and Miami, a majority of the credit and adulation went to him.  It might be if he were to win in LA but that doesn’t mean LaVar wouldn’t tweet anything in his power to take away props and attention from Lebron, diminish his contribution and credit himself (and maybe Lonzo) for being the one to “talk it into existence” and whatever else he can come up with.

LBJ can stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers who have a high number one pick on the way, or join a loaded Houston Rockets team with good friend Chris Paul.

Those seem like far better options.

If Lebron does want to go to the Lakers or at least explore it, I can see him going to Magic behind close doors and saying, you want me?  Trade Lonzo Ball.  If the Lakers did trade Lonzo in order to sign Lebron it would probably ignite a twitter sh*t storm from LaVar directed toward James.

This could actually be a good thing for James as it could provide cover for him for leaving Cleveland again.  Cleveland fans could be burning jerseys, rioting, (I don’t think Cleveland’s reaction would be nearly as strong the second time around.) but the media wouldn’t care because when LaVar talks they lap it up like a dog drinking from a toilet bowl on an Arizona summer day.  Many would jump to Lebron’s defense and by the time the storm died down it would be like oh yeah, Lebron left Cleveland again.

Like they used to say in the old westerns… This town ain’t big enough for the both of them.  Lebron, free advice:  If Lonzo is still with the Lakers, don’t do it.

 

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Hey Lakers! Give Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a Statue

He is an All Time NBA & Laker Great. What Are You Waiting For?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on May 19th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

When I first heard retired basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talking about the slight of not receiving a statue by the Los Angeles Lakers it seemed unseemly to me. A statue is not something you should have to lobby or campaign for. I can’t imagine Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. complaining or campaigning for an award. But the truth is, is that many times if you don’t speak up for yourself you will get overlooked, and upon further review if you’re going to be giving out statues then Jabbar is worthy of and should receive one.

Currently there are five statues on display at the Staples Center, with the honor being bestowed to: Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya, and Chick Hearn.

I can see erecting a statue for West and Magic before Jabbar. Jerry West is the logo for the NBA and post playing days became one of the games best general managers and was instrumental in putting together the talent that lead to more championships for the Lakers.

Magic was and is one the nations most charismatic athletes we have. His business accomplishments in Los Angeles, and his handling of HIV combined with being an all time Laker/NBA great make him a transcendent figure. Further, both played their entire careers with the Lakers and there is something magical about having a great one from the beginning of their career to the end. Alex Rodriguez will never be as much a New York Yankee as Derek Jeter or Don Mattingly.

However, it is the next three getting statue’s without Jabbar getting one that makes me go Hhhmmm (That is all you Arsenio Hall). Similar to what Jabbar has said, it is not that these men don’t deserve the honor but what about Kareem? Lets look at them and compare to Jabbar.

Wayne Gretzky may be the Michael Jordan or Babe Ruth of his sport but he didn’t start his career in Los Angeles and he didn’t end his career there either. He was still a great player with L.A. who did make hockey more relevant in the states, and L.A. in particular, but he was not playing like The Great One of his Edmonton Oilers days. I thought the NHL retiring his number was a great touch, I thought the NBA should have followed suit and done the same with Michael Jordan. But — Hold that thought.

Oscar De La Hoya. The Golden Boy. A great Olympic and boxing champion who was the first boxer to win championship belts in six different weight classes. Further, he was a local hero to many. However, as a boxer the Staples Center was not his home like it was for Jabbar. And — Hold that thought.

There are a handful of legendary announcers that do become a part of their team’s lore and history. They often span many generations and touch the heart of the viewers and their fans. They may drive some people crazy but there is no denying their imprint. Such is the case with Chick Hearn. He was one of a kind. However, outside of L.A., a local icon like Hearn is not as known as an all time great player. The jell-o is still jiggling Chick. Rip, but —

Now lets talk about Jabbar. Even though West and Magic were Laker lifers, Jabbar played as many seasons with the Lakers as West, fourteen. And one more then Magic’s thirteen. By comparison, Gretzky played eight in L.A. and ten in Edmonton. Jabbar played on five championship teams with the Lakers. Gretzky did not win a championship in Los Angeles.

For those late to the party Jabbar is the all-time leader in scoring in the NBA. He scored more points than Michael Jordan and more than twice as many points as Magic. He played on six NBA championship teams (five with the Lakers). He won six MVP’s, three of which were with the Lakers. He won a finals MVP with the Lakers and for extra credit as far as his overall L.A. impact, he played on three NCAA winning teams for UCLA.

In fairness to the Lakers, they do not own the L.A. Kings or the Staples Center so if those entities want to honor Gretzky and De La Hoya that of course is their right. Further, it was apparently the death of Chick Hearn that expedited his statue. Still for a player like Jabbar who is in the argument for top five best player of all time, who accomplished so much as a team and individual in the sport and for the Lakers, who played for so many years alongside Magic Johnson, wouldn’t it have made sense to put up their statues together? Magic, who at the time he retired, as the all-time assist leader in the NBA throwing one last pass to the all time leading scorer? That would have been special indeed.

Outside of Michael Jordan soaring through the air, if ever there was a pose that lent itself to being immortalized in a statue it is the skyhook of Kareem Abul-Jabbar. Chick Hearn didn’t get to live to enjoy the moment of his statue, why wait if it is inevitable for Jabbar?

It wasn’t out there before, so I’m glad you brought it to light number 33. But now the rest is up to Lakers to do it and the media to spotlight it or find out why if they don’t. For the record, without an indication of when, the Lakers are on record as saying they will.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

Jeff Chadiha Said What to Jim Rome About Phil Jackson?

The Zen Master Can’t Motivate and Just Rolls the Ball Out?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on May 8th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

So I’m watching the ESPN show, “Jim Rome is Burning”, and I’m about to doze off when Jeff Chadiha says some of the most ill-informed things about Phil Jackson I have ever heard. How a coach can win a record eleven NBA championships and still be this underrated by some is astonishing.In response to the Los Angeles Lakers being down 0-2 to the Dallas Maverick Chadiha, on Friday, said this, “There in a place that is not very good when you have Phil Jackson as your head coach. Things are falling apart, there are trust issues, there are chemistry issues — He’s not the guy you want on your sideline because he is more of a let the veterans work it out, let my leaders take charge.”

Now down 0-3, odds are the Lakers will lose this series but are you kidding me with this? Lets look at Phil Jackson’s coaching career . When Jackson took over in Chicago, Scottie Pippin was not a veteran and was considered soft. Jackson had to convince Jordan to trust the triangle offense and allegedly there were all kinds of trust and chemistry issues between Jordan and his teammates, as is written in the book, “Jordan Rules”. The Bulls overcame the bad boys in Detroit and won two tittles. Then down 0-2 to the New York Knicks in 1993 they came back to win in six games to make it their first three-peat.

When Jordan retired the first time, it was supposed to be open season on the Bulls. All of the Jackson haters (I’m guessing you too Chadiha?) were salivating about how he and the Bulls were going to be exposed.

Except a funny thing happened on the road to humiliation, they won two fewer games during the regular season than they did the year before with Jordan. They lost in-game seven on a phantom foul call to the New York Knicks in the playoffs.

Had Jackson quit when Jordan retired and someone else came in and led the Bulls to that identical season you can bet that coach would have won coach of the year and we would have heard how impressive that was.

The Bulls second three-peat: If Jordan’s first year back after retirement was his true rookie year he would not have gone down as arguably the greatest of all-time. He still would be great but his athleticism was clearly diminished. Jackson coached a new cast of characters to another three-peat. He tamed Dennis Rodman (enough) and kept his team focused to win a regular season record-breaking 72 games.

Back to the Rome/ Chadiha interview — When Jim Rome says to Chadiha, “I thought the guy (Jackson) was a brilliant motivator — ” Chadiha looks at Rome as if to say “Child please” and responds with, “He’s a front-runner — ”

Jackson’s third three-peat: Now with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The year before Jackson’s arrival, the Lakers got swept out of the playoffs by San Antonio. The year before that they got swept out of the playoffs by Utah. Kobe was not yet the superstar he thought he was but would later become. The historic soap opera and battle for alpha dog supremacy between Shaq and Bryant was underway and threatening to break up the dynasty before it had a chance to begin.

It is safe to say there was trust and chemistry issues galore Mr. Chadiha. Issues that would have split up the team if not for the Zen Master leading them to a championship in his first season. PJ motivated Shaq to play defense like we had never seen him play it before and got Kobe to defer to Shaq.

Continuing with Rome when he asks Chadiha, “What are you saying that he just rolls the ball out?” Chadiha’s response, “Basically, yeah that is what he does — but when it comes to motivating people when times are down he is not your guy.”

After a year out of coaching, PJ returns to the Lakers who are now a team in a state of flux. Shaq is gone and the Lakers did not make the playoffs in Jackson’s absence. Not exactly a front running situation.

Despite writing a tell all book that hung Kobe out to dry, Bryant welcomed Phil back with open arms because he knew the dude could coach! This team clearly had work to do and similar to the salivation the Jackson haters had after Jordan retired that first time, people were lining up to see Jackson fail.

This time winning didn’t come right away. On the journey back to winning championships Jackson would have to:

  • Integrate a rookie out of high school named Andrew Bynum.
  • He would have to repair trust issues and build Bynum up after a camera/cell phone caught Kobe Bryant in public complaining that the Lakers didn’t trade Bynum for Jason Kidd.
  • Jackson had to integrate foreign plays such as Sasha Vujacic, and Vladamir Radmanovic.

Further, there was another rookie named Trevor Ariza, the acquisition of Pau Gasol and he had to get key veteran Lamar Odom to accept losing his starting role to come off the bench.

For money reasons, budding star Ariza was let go and the enigmatic Ron Artest was brought in. No matter, Jackson coached them to another championship with both players.

If you look at the state of Jackson’s teams before and after he arrived and the fact that they never won a championship or even made it to an NBA finals without him, his contributions should be unquestioned.

The loyalty he inspires from stars and role players alike provide further testimony to things like chemistry, trust and motivation. The man has more championships as a head coach then Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy, Jerry Sloan, and Don Nelson combined.

Pat Riley took over a Laker team that already won a championship. Gregg Popovich had a dynasty in San Antonio but never was able to repeat or make it back to the championship the following season. Doc Rivers coaching record prior to Danny Ainge making a great trade for Ray Allen, being gifted Garnett from his friend in Minnesota Kevin McHale, drafting Rajon Rondo and adding all of this to Paul Pierce, was average at best, Jerry Sloan, never won with Stockton and Malone.

Lets face it Jeff, for whatever reason, Jackson could never satisfy the haters. Had he won with Stockton and Malone, or the current big three (really four) in Boston, or back when Seattle had Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, the Ewing led Knicks, Dwight Howard in Orlando — You would always write off his winning and attribute it to the talent. Well guess what, it does take talent to win in the NBA yo.

But prior to Michael Jordan only once in the history of the NBA had a team with the leading scorer won a championship. Jackson motivates, he gets the most out of his players and just because he doesn’t call time outs when he is supposed to doesn’t mean he is not coaching.

Criticizing Jackson after an epic record-setting run of 11 championships and for not coming back from 0-2 after losing the first two at home (something only done three times) would be like criticizing Joe DiMaggio after game fifty-seven when his hitting streak ended.

PS And just for good measure, Jackson won a championship in the Continental Basketball Association back in 1984. I guess he must have had the Michael Jordan of the CBA on his team and just rolled out the ball for him too.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

STOP “The What If Kendrick Perkins Didn’t Get Hurt”

Have You Heard of Andrew Bynum?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 24th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

For the last year I have had to listen and read about how the Boston Celtics would have won the 2010 NBA Championship if Kendrick Perkins did not get hurt in game seven of last year’s finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

It has been stated so much it has become accepted wisdom. Today’s column by Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News* is the last draw. Enough!

This is a perfect example of the media relaying selective facts to further their opinion or point of view. Yes, Kendrick Perkins got injured in game six of the finals last year and didn’t play in game seven.

However, Andrew Bynum played the entire series injured and basically on one leg. His minutes and productivity clearly down. It can be equally if not argued more accurately that if Bynum was not playing so injured the Lakers would have won the series before it got to a game seven. But in all of the sports shows and media articles I have read about the loss of Perkins in game seven I have never heard or read that counterpoint. (Apologies to anyone out there who stated it.)

Let’s take it one step further as Doc Rivers himself has added to the legend of this story by lamenting many times that his starting five of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon, Rondo and Kendrick Perkins never lost a playoff series when healthy. When the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 finals, Andrew Bynum was injured not just for one game but the entire series, as was Trevor Ariza. These were two key members of the Lakers 2009 championship.

So instead of talking about the Celtics beating the Lakers had Perkins not missed one game in 2010, isn’t time we discuss how the Lakers would have beat the Celtics if Bynum and Ariza played in 2008? How bout we let both situations go and accept that the Celtics were the worthy champion in 2008 and the Lakers the worthy champion in 2010 and put the kibosh on what I will refer to as the “Perkins asterisk”.

#####

*The main point of Lupica’s article today was to pine for Doc Rivers to be the Knicks next coach. Because as we know, even with Chauncey Billups hurt, Amare Stoudemire hurt and the nucleus of the team being together less then half a season Doc would have the Knicks sweeping teams on their way to a championship this year.

Look, I liked Doc Rivers as a player and even more as an announcer. Further, he is doing a great job coaching in Boston now, but he is not the messiah because he coached three hall of famers and four all-stars to one NBA title.

Let’s not forget that Doc was fired from Orlando in 2003 after his team got off to a 1 -10 start and overall he finished his tenure with the Magic two games above five hundred.

Let’s not forget that his Celtics struggled against lesser teams on their way to that one championship.  And in the season prior to the major influx of talent his Celtics were 24 -58. I believe it was the logo himself, Jerry West, who recently reminded us that talent wins.

As I’ve written in previous blogs, Mike D’Antoni deserves more time. If it doesn’t work out in the near future and a coaching vacancy arises, Doc would certainly be a very worthy candidate, especially if the Knicks are a team of stars needing to get the next level. No offense to Doc, I’m happy for his success in Boston but I’m rooting for Mike D. to do the same in New York.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

Shaquille O’Neal Is Wrong About Dwight Howard

shaqhoward1

Shaquille O’Neal has an affinity for nicknames, “The Big Aristotle”, “The Big Shamrock”, etc… Here is another one:  “The Big Can’t Get Over It”.  Okay it is not as eloquent as the ones he gives himself, but it is long past time he got past his issues with Dwight Howard. 

shaqhowardApparently, Howard’s big offenses to Shaq were:  taking the nickname “Superman”.   (Like Shaq was the first to ever use that one.)  And the media comparing Howard to Shaq, or calling him the next great center. 

For these two offenses Shaq rarely misses an opportunity to put Howard down.  My words to Shaq are:  You are an all-time great stop being so insecure.  If Michael Jordan reacted every time a player was called the next MJ, he’d be hating all the time.  Michael is apparently a lot more secure in himself and his place in history than you are.

Shaq’s most recent salvo is that Howard signed with the Houston Rockets because he couldn’t handle the lights of Los Angeles.  Ridiculous.  Here are valid reasons for leaving that have nothing to do with location:

  • L.A. has a coach in Mike D’Antoni, that Howard believes, doesn’t maximize his game.
  • He signed with a team, Houston, that has a coach, Kevin McHale, and hall of fame mentor, Hakeen Olajuwon, he feels better suits him.
  • Chemistry issues with the Lakers star player, and professed, “man”, Kobe Bryant.  (Shaq can you relate to issues with Kobe?)
  • Houston is also a much younger team and bettered suited to make a run at championships for years to come.
  • The Lakers are an aging, cash strapped, over the salary cap, team.

 

These are factors that would have a lot stars seeking greener pastures.

Shaq, you say everybody wants to be in L.A., but Howard never really professed that.  When he was in Orlando, he preferred a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.  Not exactly dim lights in New York.  On being traded, Howard always stated he would play out his year and see what happens in free agency, regardless of the team he was traded to.

Ironically, if the Lakers did what most thought they should, and hired the same coach that carried you to three championships, Phil Jackson, Howard likely would have stayed.

Bottom line Shaq, logic doesn’t support your conclusions.  I’m a fan of yours.  And as a fan, as big as you are, I can tell you, your attacks on Howard make you look small.  And  they’re getting old and tired.   Give it rest.  It should be beneath you.

 

Why It’s A Bigger Deal When LeBron James Flops or Dwyane Wade Is “Dirty”

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers

Fair or not we expect more from superstars.  Love’em or hate’em, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are stars of the highest order.  (Albeit Wade is past his prime).  We tend to exaggerate their successes and failures.

Another way we judge players of all sports is in how they play the game.  Playing the game, “the right way”, or “the way it is supposed to be played” are two common expressions of coaches and players meant to validate:

  • Hard-nosed play.
  • Physical play.
  • All out effort.
  • Honest way of playing.

True there is also a sports expression that states, “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”  But that best represents a sentiment from a pre-social media era.  With drug testing, digital technology, and the traditional media no longer in the back pocket of the games, players simply cannot get away with the things they did years ago.

Technically, since flopping is now a fine-able offense, you can say it qualifies as cheating.  And as much as we don’t like cheating, we like it even less when stars do it.  See the reaction when a player like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens gets suspected of using steroids versus someone like Melky Cabrera actually testing positive for something.

Hypothetically, if a 45-year-old knuckleball pitcher named Phil Niekro got busted for doctoring up a baseball that would be viewed one way.  If Clemens did it?  It would be stop the presses and call into question everything he ever accomplished.  Again, we expect more from superstars.  This is not entirely new.

We admire greatness but feel betrayed by it when it looks to cheat, or for lack of a better word, a weasely advantage.  It was one thing for Vlade Divac or Derek Fisher to be floppers for the Los Angeles Lakers.  It would be another if Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant were habitual floppers.  Just wouldn’t feel right.

LeBron refers to it as a legit strategy.  Forgetting for a moment that it is now a fine-able offense, so is bunting a runner to third base in a critical late game situation in baseball.  If a pitcher or even a leadoff hitter like Brett Gardener does so, we’re excited, but if Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols did that in their prime, it would not be greeted with the same enthusiasm.  Plaques aren’t built for bunt sacrifices and floppers.

jordanutahIt was much more satisfying watching the Chicago Bulls win games on Michael Jordan clutch shooting as opposed to if he flopped to draw an offense foul.  MJ, Magic, Bird, Russell, they weren’t known as floppers.  Lebron, do you want that attached to your resume?

Now let’s look at hard fouls/ cheap and or dirty play.  Unless you’re talking about the 80’s bad boy Detroit Pistons led by Isiah Thomas, at best that is a role player function.  Kurt Rambis of the Magic Johnson Lakers, Dennis Rodman with Michael Jordan’s Bulls, and Bruce Bowen for earlier versions of Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs are examples.

dwadeelbowIf Duncan fouled people or executed the cheap shots that Bowen did it would be a bigger deal.  As it is now with seemingly nice guy Dwyane Wade who is slowly building a resume of questionable plays.  Because of his nice guy persona he has enjoyed the benefit of the doubt, but elbows, like the one he threw in game three against Indiana’s Lance Stephenson are starting to add up.

For reasons already well documented, fans already root for the Miami Heat and their not five, not six, not seven proclamation to fail.  Flopping and dirty play only gives them two more reasons to root for them to lose, and minimize them if they win.

As players, James and Wade do so many things the right way and are so talented, they shouldn’t need to flop and or cheap shot to win.

It’s fine for people to trot out the old cliché about only remembering the winner… But with Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, that is not as true as it used to be.

Memo to Commissioner Stern:  Kudos for instituting a fine for flopping, but increase it.

 

Correcting ESPN’s Colin Cowherd Again

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It this week’s edition of correcting ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, the subject is Los Angeles Laker coach Mike D’Antoni.  On his radio show simulcast on ESPNU, this past Monday, the Herd wanted to make the case that going forward D’Antoni was the wrong coach for Lakers.  And more specifically he’s wrong for Laker center and now free agent Dwight Howard.

This is a fair and debatable topic that I have no problem with.  I can understand both points of view.  In fact I recently wrote a blog that the Lakers, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder might be haunted by not hiring Phil Jackson.

durantanthonyI would also take Kevin Durant over Carmelo Anthony.  Doesn’t mean Anthony isn’t a great basketball player.

Where the Herd went wrong is when he went all “shock jock” and started talking out of his rear-end slamming D’Antoni.  His over the top rant was that D’Antoni always under performed as a head coach in the playoffs.

This is absurd.  Two minutes of fact checking disproves this.  There is no reason for The Herd not to know this.

So let’s look at the facts.  Mike D’Antoni inherited a terrible team, mid-season, when he was the coach of the Phoenix Suns.  He was 20-41 in 2003/04.  He went on to coach for four full seasons.  How did the Suns do in the playoffs in those years?

  • 2004-5:   They lose in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs. (Who beat the defending champion Detroit Pistons.)
  • 2005-6: They lose in the Western Conference Finals to the higher seeded Dallas Mavericks.
  • 2006-7: They lose in the Western Conference Semi-Finals to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.   This is the year where Robert Horry gave Steve Nash a cheap shot in front of Phoenix’s bench that led to some suspensions of player’s like Amar’e Stoudemire.  The Spurs also won a game in this series thanks to a Tim Duncan three-point shot sending the game into O.T.  Not exactly a failure of strategy.
  • 2007-8:  Lost in the first round to the higher seeded San Antonio Spurs.
nash-horry

Robert Horry hip checks Steve Nash in the closing seconds of a playoff game where the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Saying D’Antoni always under performed because he primarily couldn’t get by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs dynasty is like saying Pat Riley under performed as head coach of the Knicks because NY couldn’t get past Phil Jackson and the Bulls.

Which series, specifically, did D’Antoni under perform Herd?  Hhmm??

Yes Colin, D’Antoni did have two-time MVP Steve Nash.  But not many would make the argument he was the best player in the game.  In fact many made the argument that Shaquille O’Neal deserved the MVP  one of those years.  But no doubt Nash was great.  You know who else is great Herd?  Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

In New York, D’Antoni inherited a team that was in massive salary cap dump mode to clear room to try to lure Lebron James as a free agent.  Between roster turnover, injury, and the lockout, it is hard to slam D’Antoni for his one first round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics while in NY.

In L.A… He is hired after the start of the season.  So no training camp.  Pau Gasol misses significant time due to injury.  Steve Nash misses time due to injury including some playoff games.  Kobe Bryant misses the playoffs.  Dwight Howard isn’t fully recovered from back surgery, and tears a labrum in his shoulder.  Metta-World-Peace has knee surgery during the season.

This is just part of the Laker’s laundry list of things that went wrong this season.  And as a seventh seed they lose to D’Antoni’s old nemesis the San Antonio Spurs.  Is this a clear example of under performing?

Whether it is Phil Jackson or anyone else Herd, if you want to make a case for a different coach make it.  But don’t slander a coach and misrepresent the record.  You might be able to make a point about a D’Antoni team under performing in a season or two but always? Not even close.

And as I have stated when talking about your assaults on Michael Jordan when deifying Lebron James, you have three hours, five days a week, so you do have time to get stories right.

The reasons he doesn’t?   The choices are:

  • He and his production team are incompetent.
  • They’re negligent.
  • He has a vendetta against D’Antoni.
  • He is a shock jock for ratings and doesn’t care whose career or reputation he might hurt.

You’re good enough without this Colin.  You should clean it up.

The Curse Of The Zen Master

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If you had an NFL running back who rushed for a 1,000 yards but could get one who repeatedly rushed for 1,500, and you wouldn’t have to give up any other player, would you?  How about letting go a MLB 25 home run guy for a 40 plus guy?  If money wasn’t an issue, these are pretty easy calls right?

Yet after the 2012 NBA season a few franchises seemingly had no problem bypassing arguably the greatest coach in its sports history, Phil Jackson.  Let’s look at three teams that coulda shoulda  went Zen.

The Los Angeles Lakers – I have been a fan of current Laker Coach Mike D’Antoni.  Loved him in Phoenix  with the Suns, and thought he got a raw deal in New York with the Knicks.  If not for a cheap shot by San Antonio Spur Robert Horry against Steve Nash, that instigated Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw  to come off the bench and get suspended, I think Phoenix beat he Spurs in that 2007 playoff series.  They’re then the favorite to win the championship.  That win would have put to rest whether D’Antoni’s style of play can win it all.

PhiljacksonKoThat aside, his style was clearly not the best match for this Laker team.  Not with their bigs, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.  And not with their star player, Kobe Bryant, being so comfortable with Phil Jackson and his triangle offense.  Which oh by the way is better suited to star center Dwight Howard who they hope to retain as a free agent.

True the Lakers were hit hard by injury, but they clearly under performed this season and had chemistry issues. This forced Bryant to play far to many minutes down the stretch just in the hope of nabbing one of the last playoff spots.  Bryant wound up rupturing his Achilles tendon, an injury that Laker personal says you can’t attribute to the excessive minutes thrust upon the 34-year-old star.  However, according to WebMD, the causes for an this tear include overuse and stepping up activity too quickly.  Um, playing 45 to 48 minutes a game qualifies as overuse and stepping up ones activity.  This seems to agree with common sense.

Had Jim Buss been able to set his ego aside and hire Jackson, the Lakers would have been in a better position and likely would not have had to push Bryant.  This may not have eliminated, but certainly would have reduced his risk for this injury.

True Jackson would have cost more money then D’Antoni, but Kobe is going to cost Buss 30 mil next year that he will not be getting a good return on.  And who knows, with a fourth or fifth seed maybe these Lakers could have pulled off the offset and won it all.  Then all of the Jackson haters could have said yeah but look at all of the talent Jackson has.

PhiljacksonKnThe New York Knicks – As soon as Mike D’Antoni resigned in mid-season from the Knicks, it didn’t take long for the rumors to start about Phil Jackson returning to the team he was drafted by and had won a championship with as a player.  Assistant coach Mike Woodson was promoted to interim coach and certainly did more than enough to earn the job full-time.

But I go back to my opening analogy, if you have a 30-homerun guy and 40-homerun guy who do you take?  The additional money Jackson would cost amounts to pennies for Knick Owner James Dolan.  The Knicks have had an up and down year but do appear to be rising heading into the playoffs.  They do have the talent to upset Miami and win it all.  Will they?  Anything short of that should leave questions with respect to what they would have done with Jackson.

For as good job as he has done, Woodson has placated the supremely talented but ball stopping Carmelo Anthony.  The chemistry between he and a healthy Amar’e Stoudemire is still not there and Melo still shoots too much.

phil-jacksonmjKPhil Jackson and his gravitas may have been the best thing to ever happen to Melo.  If Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were able to accept and thrive in the ball moving triangle offense, you know Melo would have had to try to make it work as well.  I also think Jackson would have gotten Melo to play better and more consistent defense.  The book is still open but anything short of a championship this season or within the next two and you have to wonder.

Oklahoma City ThunderScott Brooks has done a great job with the Thunder.  They made the NBA finals last year and got a little jobbed by the officials on their way to losing to the Miami Heat in five games.  Brooks’ contract expired and he was a coaching free agent.  For a minute, it looked like he might not reach agreement.  There was a slight murmur of Phil Jackson to OKC, but not any serious exploration.  This was a mistake.

durantwest_editedThey may say all of the right things off the court but clearly there are on court chemistry issues between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.  The Zen Master, has a little experience in this department with two stars, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who didn’t like each other.  Durant and Westbrook appear to like to each other and do want to win.

With the departure of James Harden to Houston, I think Jackson would have made an even bigger difference heading into this year’s playoffs, especially in confidence and fourth quarter execution.  In fact I will go ahead and say it: With Phil Jackson, OKC would have won it all this year.  Now we will see.

Unlike LA or NY, money could have been a real issue with OKC, but I think it was foolish of ownership not to explore further.  Maybe Jackson takes less for this opportunity?

Like Woodson in NY, Brooks earned his place.  But this isn’t about that.  Sports is a win now business.  When the window is open, you never know how long it will stay open.  And when the game’s best is available for the job and can take you that next level, you seize it.  Or at least explore all avenues to see if you can make it work before making your choice.

I think all three franchises struck out here.  We will see if and how it haunts them.  We will see if and when they raise their next or first championship banner.  And if they don’t win, we will wonder if they would have done better  if they went Zen.

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