Coaching Cohesion

D073706016.JPGAn immediate advantage enjoyed by the Lakers over several teams in the NBA comes off the actual basketball court, over in the coaches locker room.

With Phil Jackson electing to return for his 11th season, a boost of major proportions in its own right, also comes the return of longtime assistants Jim Cleamons and Frank Hamblen, both of whom coached under Jackson in Chicago. Furthermore, Brian Shaw returns for his sixth year on Jackson’s staff, while Chuck Person has replaced Kurt Rambis as a full time assistant after spending last season as a special assistant coach.

“We’ve been together for a while,” said Cleamons, with a smile.

How long, exactly? Let’s take a look:

Phil Jackson and Jim Cleamons: 1989-96 with the Chicago Bulls; 1999-present with the Lakers.
Phil Jackson and Frank Hamblen: 1996-98 with Chicago; 1999-present with the Lakers.
Phil Jackson and Brian Shaw: 2005-present* with the Lakers.
*Shaw also served as an assistant to Hamblen during the second half of the 2004-05 season, when Jackson was on “sabbatical,” as he likes to call it.

All of that time together, with the same offense, the triangle, and consistent defensive principals makes for an easy sell in training camp, particularly with all of the championship rings it has produced for Jackson and his staff.

“We have five guys that are familiar with what we do, and we all want to help,” said Cleamons. “The good thing about it is that we do get along. No one wants to step on anyone’s toes, nobody’s fighting for the spotlight.”