Media day is still three days away, but that didn’t keep Phil Jackson from sitting down at L.A.’s practice facility on Friday to provide a little teaser for a hungry group of journalists that assembled in El Segundo.
It was a busy summer in Laker Land, featuring the 15th championship celebration for the franchise, the return of Jackson for another run, the acquisition of Ron Artest, the re-signing of Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown, Pau Gasol’s finger injury and subsequent MVP award in the European Championships, an assemblance of most of L.A.’s young players at the practice facility and, sure, Odom’s weekend wedding.
Alas, as Jackson was talking, we did our best to follow along with the fingers moving:
- The Coach opened by answering a question about his T-Mobile commercial, citing that he goes “way back” with Jesse James because James was a companian of Dennis Rodman’s. Your usual soft opener.
- The first comment Phil had regarding the coming basketball season was that the team wanted to “make the transition for Ron Artest seamless,” adding that Artest is “The defensive player we’ve wanted over the course of the last couple of years. Defense is going to be the item of the day.” Jackson also mentioned that he doesn’t think Artest’s presence will disrupt the offense: “Our game is not predicated on calling plays, it’s about the players reading the game and trying to get the ball to the open man.”
- Jackson neglected to talk about his contract after the coming season, saying he hasn’t talked to Jerry Buss.
- On Kurt Rambis taking the Timberwolves’ head coaching position: “I don’t think a person particularly (will replace him) but the do-it-all nature that he had has to be picked up by some people. I’ll have to spend a little more time working with the big guys, and the staff will have to take on the defensive responsibility that Kurt had. We’ll miss that but we’re (happy he had the opportunity in Minnesota).”
- Jackson agreed that his frontcourt foursome of Bynum-Gasol-Artest-Odom is easily the most talented he’s ever had, and cited the Portland team in 2000 as the last big foursome that had similar on-paper talent.
- On distractions regarding certain players’ off court interests: “It will be something we have to talk about. There’s a certain amount of privacy that we have to demand from (the players) and I think these guys are professional. They’ll understand it.” Jackson said one difference between his Bulls days and now is the media climate, including Twitter, TMZ and constant internet coverage.
- There will be restrictions for players in terms of social media from the team. “There are things they’ll have to be cognizant of.”
- Jackson said he is going to Lamar Odom’s much-reported wedding. “I’m very supportive of Lamar and want everything to go right for him.”
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