Here’s what Phil Jackson had to say after Friday’s practice session at STAPLES Center:
Q. Everybody talks about Kobe, man on a mission, super serious attitude. Do you see much of a difference in Kobe now in that regard than earlier in the last decade when he was winning titles? Does it come with being more of a veteran or maybe did it come more after he won three years in a row with not once making the playoffs and twice being ousted in the first round?
PHIL JACKSON: Um, I think he’s always been a person that’s been extremely capable of concentrating and focusing on what he has to get accomplished. At some point I thought perhaps he had a more myopic view of it in his 20s, early 20s, when I first got here with the Los Angeles Lakers. The second year, or even in the first playoff, he started expanding his vision, and I think that comes with his dedication to the details of the game. So some of it I thought was about making plays. Now he’s capable of making the play that makes the play. That’s a big distinction. In hockey we still give them an assist, but in basketball we don’t. That’s a big distinction as to making the team react to what he’s doing so he can create an offensive opportunity for somebody else.
Q. Did it perhaps add more hunger when he had that three year stretch not once making the playoffs?
PHIL JACKSON: Oh, he couldn’t live with it. Kobe can’t live with not competing at the top level. He doesn’t understand that. We had many conversations early in his career about what it would be like when Shaq had retired and they weren’t going on together as a combo, and he never, ever saw himself in the position not to win. He thought that was his destiny.
Q. With all the talk about physicality in this series, the first game last night had 67 free throws. Is there any concern that this could just turn into a free throw competition? And is there anything that can be done to avoid that?
PHIL JACKSON: You know, I thought that the onset of the game created kind of a warning level for the referees who then called the game very close and very tight. You know, some of the things were just post up opportunities that guys got called on, which normally in this game probably wouldn’t be called. But because of the contact in the early part of the game, I think that that was the reason they might have been called. So I think that’s not going to be the normal activity. No one wants to see a team shoot 67 free throws in a ballgame, but that’s still part of the game, and that’s the process you have to adjust to the game as the game goes on, to how the game is being refereed, and we tell players that consistently, that you have to play beyond the refereeing, not above it or whatever, but just beyond it. Just play beyond it.
Q. So much of the talk after Game 1 was how physical you guys were and not Boston so much. Do you expect the Celtics to come out in Game 2 and really kind of push the physical envelope?
PHIL JACKSON: You know, there’s a difference between being aggressive and being physical, and I think that the distinction was made last night by Doc right here at the podium when he said that perhaps the Lakers were the aggressor. That’s a big difference. You know, it’s not about this is not a contact sport, we know that. Maybe it is a contact sport. Football is a collision sport. But this is not about power. This is a game about finesse and activity, and the activity is what creates the aggressiveness, I think, and that’s the context that I think we want to get this game to as coaches and as the NBA and everything else. We’re not talking about guys beating each other up and that type of stuff. So the physical context, yes, you’re going to be physical in the game, but it’s about being aggressive.
Q. Along that line, what kind of composure and poise did Ron Artest show after the double tech and then a very physical battle where he was the aggressor? What did he show composure wise?
PHIL JACKSON: Ron is always he’s always been in that composure state. We’ve never seen him in a situation, practice or in a game, where he’s lost his head and he’s had to be detained or taken out of a play or guys will walk him off. He just seems to always be he’s going to put what he does out there on the floor and then see how the game reacts to it.
Q. There was a few minutes before the tip off last night where there was a little bit of delay. You’ve been around basketball, you’re sitting there, fans are going crazy. I’m curious from your point of view, butterflies? Is that what it’s all about at that point as you get ready?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, you can hardly wait to get it going. There’s quite a preamble, there’s quite a session to get this game under way, and it probably takes 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and normally it takes just five or something like that. So there is that little segment. Then the guys go back out and warm up again. It’s just like the thought about the energy building, the anticipation coming, and then the activity finally is kind of like a relief.
Q. Do you actually get used to it, though? You’ve done this so many times, and you talk about how the playoffs are so important to you more than anything during the course of the year. Don’t you ever just step back for just a second there, where I’ve come from, how many times I’ve done this?
PHIL JACKSON: Yes. I mean, there is that. Going through that little trophy on the sideline and the guys stepping out, being introduced, kind of a different kind of element. You know, we know how that’s going to work. I think that helps. Boston knows how it works; I think that helps them. Teams that come into it, I think it’s kind of a little upsetting at first for that, the situation out on the floor. But yeah, there’s a getting used to what this whole Finals is about.
Q. If you kind of combine what your point guards did last night, they pretty much matched or even bettered Rondo in some regard. Can you talk about the way those guys played. And is that about as good as you can expect to do with the point guard match up?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, you know, Fish is going to have an impact at some level scoring wise. He’s a key shooter in our offense, critical plays at the end of games, particularly at the end of clocks, so we anticipate that. We enjoyed the fact that Shannon and Jordan had moments out there on the floor that they really performed well, and I think that we got what we wanted out of that game.
Q. There’s been so much talk coming into the series about Pau in 2008, was he soft, this and that. Do you think he’s actually changed, or is it a perception?
PHIL JACKSON: No, I think he’s just matured. I don’t think he’s actually changed. I think it’s just a maturation.
Q. You said last night Boston is a team that can adapt and change. What are you expecting from them in Game 2?
PHIL JACKSON: I think they’ll make it much more difficult for us to get to the basket. I think they’re going to try and close their lanes off. I think their segments of screen roll opportunities that hurt them, they’ll make adjustments there. They’re a good adjustment team. Offensively, I really don’t know what to anticipate. They have such a big menu of options that they run out of their offense that I anticipate they’ll pick something that’s going to be a key. Last night they started off right away trying to exploit the Allen Fisher match up and got Fisher out of the game in a matter of two minutes. That may be something they want to go back to and work on again, I don’t know.
Q. Six games against Phoenix, playing zone most of the time. Is that good preparation for getting the ball inside against these guys?
PHIL JACKSON: Well, they do conceptually play zone after initial action. They’ll get into their rotations that they like to do. So there is some activity that you have to create on the back side of your offense to try and counteract that. I would venture to say, yes, it probably helped us. We had three games versus a zone, and I think that kind of helped us in visualizing.
Q. It seemed like you were getting big guy to big guy stuff yesterday that you weren’t getting that easily against Phoenix.
PHIL JACKSON: Yeah, that’s true.