Monthly Archive for July, 2010

Page 4 of 4

Happy Birthday, Spaniard

60827750On July 6, 1980, Pau Gasol was born in Barcelona, Spain.

Thirty years later, he’s a two-time NBA champion.

The Spaniard just completed quite a year, having played a critical role in his first NBA championship a few weeks before turning 29 when L.A. beat Orlando 4-1 in the 2009 Finals, and then offering his best season as a professional and ultimately winning his second straight title with a 4-3 defeat of Boston in the 2010 Finals.

Gasol made the All-Star team for the second straight time, and was named to the All-NBA Third Team despite two bothersome hamstrings that kept him out of 17 games and likely off the First or Second team.

He averaged 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.74 blocks on 53.6 percent shooting in the regular season, as well as 19.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.09 blocks on 53.9 percent shooting in the playoffs, all the while eviscerated any remaining rumblings that he was “soft.”

In between championships, Gasol led his Spanish National Team to the 2009 FIBA European Championship, earning MVP honors along the way.

A great season, to say the least, for a player that continues to gain steam as the NBA’s best all-around big man.

Phil’s Back

blog_100701philjacksonThe numbers are staggering:

- 11 championships as a coach (best all time) and two as a player
- 1,098 wins to 460 losses for a winning percentage of .705 (best ever)
- 225 playoff wins to 98 losses for a winning percentage of .697 (best ever)
- 50-plus wins in all but three of his 19 seasons
- NBA record 72 regular season wins in 1995-96

Phil Jackson’s accomplishments more than speak for themselves; but if you ask his players, its his mind and teaching style that have already had a lasting impact.

“Our personality of our team is made up of his thought process, his philosophies,” said Kobe Bryant, who has won five titles with the Zen Master, in his postseason exit interview. “I don’t even want to think about (Jackson retiring) right now. (It’s killing my buzz.)”

But Kobe, his teammates and Lakers fans don’t have to worry any longer, as the team announced on Thursday afternoon that Phil will be back in his big chair for a run at his fourth three-peat.

“Count me in,” said Jackson. “After a couple weeks of deliberation, it is time to get back to the challenge of putting together a team that can defend its title in the 2010-11 season. It’ll be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one.”

Bryant, perhaps more than anyone, recognizes Jackson’s value.

“He has a great knack for bringing guys together,” explained No. 24. “He’s not a rah-rah coach. I think they lose attention because they’re always trying to pump guys up. He focuses on execution, the triangle offense, and a consistent message every single day.”

Derek Fisher gets it, too.

“I think his overall lessons and teachings on staying in the moment and always staying strong, (keeping) your composure and not allowing yourself to get too worked up over things,” he said back in May. “I think that demeanor allows us to find our way sometimes when we’re not on the right course, because of his example.”

“The thing that separates Phil is that he teaches his teams how to problem solve,” added Bryant. “That’s the big thing, so we can make adjustments on the fly ourselves. As a result, you see him sitting back and we’re doing most of the talking, that’s because he’s taught us to be able to figure things out on our own.”

That’s certainly what the Lakers managed to do in defending the title they garnered in 2009 with a tough 2010 playoff season, after which Jackson had hinted that he was “leaning towards retiring.”

No need for those sentiments now, though.

Phil’s back.