Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Zen update

Phil Jackson is now officially off the radar screen for anything having to do with the Cavaliers, if he was ever on the screen to begin with.
In a move that reeks of returning to a personal comfort zone rather than a seeking out of a new challenge, Jackson returned to his former post as coach of the Lakers today.
Laker fans having a dream sequence about returning to the top should wake up now, before watching next year's edition of the Lakers does it for them.
Jackson returned to Los Angeles not because he has some great desire to turn the Lakers back to a winner. He retured because he has been dating Jeanie Buss, the daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, for quite some time. He returned for the glamorous profile of the Lakers job, he returned for the sun and sand and Buddhism of Southern California in January.
The Lakers are a cozy little mountaintop Jackson never wanted to leave in the first place.
Jackson will return to the Lakers a happy man. What Jackson won't do is improve the team's roster, hampered by a cumbersome salary cap figure. The Lakers can't play defense, have no interior presence, and have no real shooters outside of Kobe Bryant.
Ah, yes, Kobe Bryant. Like David Wells returning to the Yankees, Jackson was so desperate to get back to his little golden corner of the world that he is back-burnering his previous spat with Kobe, the one that caused his departure from the Lakers in the first place.
Bryant reportedly called today's re-hiring "something I support," which is a far cry from "Phil's back? What took them so long?"
We'll see about Bryant's "support" once these two have to co-exist on a daily basis and share a hotel for two weeks at a time. Bryant is the embodiment of the philosophy "good fences make good neighbors."
Jackson and Bryant are both way too full of themselves to accomplish much of anything together anymore. The Lakers probably aren't a title condenter right now even if both guys are down-to-earth and best buds. The fact that both have easily-ruffled egos complicates matters exponentially.
Jackson has been called the "Zen Master" for years. The big difference is, he's starting to believe it now. If Jackson begins to fancy himself Mr. Miagi from "The Karate Kid" before he fancies himself a coach, that probably won't endear him to his players, many of whom arrived in L.A. after Jackson departed for his motivational speaking and meditation career.
Bryant has last year's rape trial hanging over him still. He is now a villain to many NBA fans. Who was once simply a quiet superstar is now being interpreted as a insufferable prima donna and a sullen malcontent to be kept away from.
Jackson and Bryant are both becoming caricatures of the people they were during the Lakers title run. This time around, it will be a wonder if they can get along with anybody, least of all each other.

1 comment:

Zach said...

I think that the reason he came back is his girlfriend, and the fact that he lives in LA. He doesn't need the money, doesn't need the legacy, and certainly doesn't need the hassle of prima donna's like Kobe Bryant.
But this may prove Phil is not as great as believed. He has picked his spots so well to this point, but I don't think he did this time.