As a coach who has been on the sidelines while three of his players–Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and now, Kobe Bryant–have been crowned MVP, Jackson said before tonight’s game that he does not believe his team’s focus will waver despite Bryant’s pre-game MVP ceremony.
“No, I don’t think it’s going to affect us,” said Jackson, revealing that the Lakers know that they need to protect their home court by winning tonight. Jackson described his mood as apprehensive heading into tonight’s Game 2, but not because he has a lack of confidence in his team’s ability to come out ready to battle after Kobe receives his MVP trophy. “Utah may come out and play better than us tonight,” said Jackson.
“We’re more than ready to play,” Jackson said, citing the long break between Sunday’s Game 1 and today’s Game 2.
“It’s a recognition that he didn’t think was ever going to happen for him,” Jackson said, noting that Kobe’s award can be attributed to both his individual success and that of the team during the regular season.
“Familiarity brings some kind of contempt,” said Jackson, possibly providing one reason for why #24 has never been voted MVP before this season.
Jackson praised Bryant’s dedication, one-mindedness and his ability to apply himself to the better interests of the team.
“Experience is a great teacher; You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink,” said Jackson of Kobe’s maturation in his 12 years in the league.