Before today’s opening game of the First Round, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson–wearing his 2002 championship ring–mused that his first indication that the playoffs had arrived in L.A. came when he saw the car flags waving from cars–a signature trait of the team’s three-peat run.
All joking aside, Jackson said, “I think the seriousness of the playoffs kind of kicked in a little bit on Friday, started getting serious about the direction we’re going and the attitude we have to take toward taking care of the business at home.”
While the team’s newest star Pau Gasol has played in the playoffs before, he has yet to see anywhere close to the media attention he will likely see in this year’s postseason as a member of the Laker.
“I think he was languishing in Memphis,” said Jackson. “I just think it felt like they weren’t having any positive things. The crowd was dwindling,more attention going to the college team than the professional team in town. I think those things made it difficult to play. It was a boost to his attentiveness, to his basketball skills.”
Gasol is not the only Laker who enters this postseason with a different mindset as Jackson says that the entire team’s outlook is dramatically different this year.
“Last year was a year read with injuries and disappointments because we had hopes that we could improve on our record that was good enough to be in the playoffs the first year I came back to coach,” said Jackson. “Last year sounded like a slippage, we had to scramble to get to the playoffs so it was kind of patching together things last year. This year is a lot different. While we’ve had our share of injuries, we’ve been able to sustain the effort.”