Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson kicked off the 2010-11 season with a press conference on Friday morning at the team’s practice facility.
The presser was carried live on Lakers.com, where you can head to re-watch it at any time.
Below are highlights from Jackson’s comments:
On returning: “I just had to get away from L.A. and away from the madness of winning a championship to retreat and think about it … it wasn’t difficult once I came to the conclusion that this is the way it should end. This is the way it should go … I’ve enjoyed being away from the game, taking time away, so I’m not so concerned about leaving the game so much. There are a lot of people that work with me, and I’m beholden to them for their efforts. I enjoy working with them and I think that’s a big part of our team.”
On his relationship with Kobe: “I’m pleased with the way Kobe’s career has gone in the last four years. We’ve had a relationship for five or six years that has been remarkable, to have this turnaround in our relationship. He understand a lot of what I do without verbalizing it. It’s always a benefit to have leaders like Kobe and Derek (Fisher) on the team.”
On Andrew Bynum’s health: “I don’t see how Andrew is going to be ready, and I really haven’t anticipated him being ready at the beginning of the season. The type of surgery that the doctor did on his knee takes a little extra time. We hadn’t prepared, and Andrew certainly hadn’t prepared … he could have come in a little bit earlier, but the end result is what he’s going to be like in May and June and that’s what’s important.
“Andrew had an opportunity to play under the limitations of his injury (in the 2010 playoffs), which really limited his movement and how much he could throw himself into the game and the amount of minutes he could play. Andrew really made a point to help the team to the championship, even though he was at 70 percent of what he could possibly do, and it really helped us out.”
On Kobe’s knee: “I anticipate he’s going to play some minutes even over in Europe.” Jackson added that he thinks Kobe is just fine, and should be fully ready to go for the season opener.
On the Miami Heat: “I think it’s quite a surprise to all of us in the NBA that this is what happened. I guess when you look back on it … some of the statements (Dwyane Wade) made in Chicago, it’s no surprise when you look back at it. I think it’s all fair game. Players can go out and recruit. They did a great job of recruiting these players. It’s going to make for a very exciting season, and something that people are looking forward to seeing.”
On the bench: “We hope to improve every year … we felt that last year our bench hit a soft spot in the middle of the season. Some things didn’t gel like (we wanted them to). We wanted some (additional) support with Luke (Walton’s injury concerns), and Matt Barnes and Steve Blake (can help towards that end).”
On Lamar Odom playing throughout the summer: The (World Championships) shouldn’t affect him (adversely). He’s had two weeks off. He’s probably in the best shape he’s ever come into camp in. We’ll obviously nurture him a little bit. We tried to do that with Pau last year, (but with D.J. Mbenga being injured) Pau had to take on a bigger role, and it ended up costing us 11 games (due to a hamstring strain).” Jackson obviously wants to avoid something similar with Odom.
On Pau Gasol and his summer off: Jackson joked that every time he turned around or received a link from someone, Gasol was in a different foreign country … jumping over kids in India, and so on. He wondered if Gasol should “start the Palestine – Israeli peace talks.” He added, however, that “hopefully he has been rested and is ready to play” since the Spaniard didn’t play any organized hoops.
- Phil’s confident that Kobe Bryant will adjust just fine to the NBA’s new referee policing.
On if it’s his last season as he’s said, will he actively look to promote one of his assistants like Brian Shaw: “I think all of the coaches that I have are in a position to have leadership moments, and participation and a voice with our team. It really is something I’ve always promoted, that the coaches always have a voice. No doubt about it, Brian (Shaw) has been an active voice since he’s (been with me).” Jackson added that it’s not his job to promote a coach, but he said that he hopes it’s one of the guys off his bench.
On Game 7 of the Finals against Boston: “I kept asking Kobe, keep passing the ball for most of the game. But he got it together in the fourth quarter. We had a nice fourth quarter. There’s some play there by Ron Artest that stands out as some of the best performance by any type of player who’s had that type of role … an up and down kind of season. To have that kind of impact, that’s outstanding for me.”
- Jackson acknowledged that he understands why Miami is favored (in Vegas) to win it all, but added that “Basketball is won with defense. The Celtics play defense, and they know how to do it.”
- Jackson spent much of his summer collaborating with team photographer Andrew Bernstein writing captions for a photo book that comes out soon. He also had a daughter have her third child, which was very enjoyable for him, and a family wedding.
Jackson on Luke Walton’s health: “I can’t say I feel confident. I’m hopeful.”
On how hard will it be to win again: “It’s an impossible task. You just go about it and don’t think about how difficult it is, and play each game and don’t worry about anything but that. It takes remarkable talent to be able to do it.” Jackson cited Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Dallas and Denver … then added Houston and Phoenix to the mix when discussing how difficult it is just to return to the Finals.
- Phil on if Kobe can recognize “how far along he is”: “I hope so. He pushed himself to the limits, took some time off and still pushed himself to get through it. If it’s necessary to do it, we’ll do it (rest him).”
- Jackson had an interesting comment that 36 minutes is often a bench mark for the game’s elite players, in terms of wanting no fewer minutes to have a true influence on the game. This came up as related to Kobe Bryant, whom Jackson said he doesn’t expect to play significantly fewer minutes this season.