Archive for the 'Phil Jackson' Category

Phil Jackson Radio Transcript

Kobe Bryant And Phil Jackson Address The MediaFormer Lakers coach Phil Jackson joined ESPNLA710′s Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson last week to discuss myriad topics, including his new book Eleven Rings, coaching Kobe Bryant and the Lakers’ offseason.

Among the several interviews Jackson has been doing, this one is focused on current Lakers items. Below is a transcription:

Q: On the motivation behind writing his book:
Jackson: Well, it’s a recap of coaching and lessons learned. One of the biggest lessons I learned as a coach was about how to deal with Kobe Bryant, my relationship with him was a big part of a learning curve for myself, and hopefully for Kobe, too, because we have a great relationship. I know airing it sometimes might seem insensitive, but it’s a personal book and I think it explains some things that are gratifying. The first chapter, obviously, details how Kobe’s growth brought together a basketball team to reform a championship, which we were able to win two, and his growth as an individual. There’s plenty of praise in there, too.

Q: On picking Bill Russell over any team to start a franchise:
Jackson: I think everybody who has gone through the process of winning championship rings, it’s an arduous thing and it takes tremendous amount of will, courage and playing through all kinds of adversity, and 11 rings are just a testament to how great this guy really was. It’s his era, it’s what he did and it’s a tribute and honor for him to have won 11 rings at a time when the league was very compact – eight or 10 teams in the league – and to be able to do that, it’s a phenomenal feat.

Q: On any direct feedback he’s received from the book from former players:
Jackson: Kobe and I have exchanged a few things. I sent him a book right away when he was bruised perhaps by some of the responses that I picked Michael as better than him. It’s not true. It’s a comparison, not better or best. I sent him a book right away, so he can read it for himself to get a taste of what it’s about. Rick Fox, we communicate back and forth. I haven’t heard from a lot of my other players with the Chicago Bulls, so I can’t comment on anybody on that end. I am going to do a live talk forum with John Salley, who was on both on a Bulls championship team in 1997-98 and a Lakers championship team in 1999-00.

Q: On what he sees his role to be right now:
Jackson: My role right now is really to support (fiance and Lakers executive) Jeanie Buss, sit back in my retirement and maybe do some mentoring. I had a conversation with the possible owner of the Seattle Supersonics and their failed efforts to secure the Sacramento franchise. That was a real interest on my part because it was a team that was going to start all over again, and move their franchise from one city to the next and I really liked Chris Hansen’s ideas as an owner as to how to elevate the game.

Q: On what he wants the future to look like for him:
Jackson: There really are no wants. There’s nothing I feel compelled to do. Obviously there’s a real diversity in the styles of basketball being played right now in the NBA as opposed to how I coached a team. Maybe the only ones that can compare are Indiana and San Antonio that are full-fledged offenses that use passing. Post up basketball used to be the trademark of the NBA game. The game has changed now. It’s dribble penetration and you see maybe one or two passes. There’s a change in styles. There’s that mentoring aspect, or being part of a larger entity.

Q: On under what scenario he would coach:
Jackson: I have no intention of coaching. I don’t have any intention of coaching. I actually used that same phrase to Mitch Kupchak back in (November) of this past year. It’s much different when all of a sudden they’re in need … The (Lakers) suddenly have a team that was composed of many players I coached and a team that is looking for an offensive system that could match what I basically used to run with two bigs in (Dwight) Howard and Pau Gasol. There was intrigue there, but I hadn’t even made up my mind to coach that team when they offered it. I was still sitting on my decision when they short-gapped it, called me up instead and said: “We think Mike D’Antoni is the right person for this team.”

Q: On if he thinks Dwight Howard will go to Houston:
Jackson: It’s an obvious choice, from the standpoint of best scenarios. (But) then you have all the other things trailing along behind you … he gave up on the Lakers, he left his team in Orlando, he didn’t see it through with the Lakers and there’s the financial issue. There’s very few players that you see are willing to forgo the financial issues for issues of best scenario for them playing wise. I think we’ve seen Tim Duncan take less money in his contract negotiation to facilitate bringing better players on, but we don’t see many players (do that) … You have, really, the draw of an agent saying this is best for financial, perhaps this is best for your scenario. The other thing is: Mike D’Antoni is a good coach. People disregard the fact he’s had success. He knows what he needs to have to put a team together. If they’re minding their P’s and Q’s over there in the organization, they’re trying to figure this out. They can have Dwight as a screen and roll guy that pounds the inside a la Amaré Stoudemire. He’ll get the ball on the move. He might not get many post ups or many decisive plays in which he’s directing the traffic from the post position, but he’s going to get more opportunities to score. In a situation where Mike comes in, he has a training camp, everything else can happen and he has more personnel around him to support his system. I think (Howard is) on the horns of a dilemma. There’s no doubt about it. He has a decision to make, and it’s going to be tough. And the Lakers have a decision to make with Pau. Is Pau perhaps the better player in a D’Antoni system than Howard would be? Even though the defense isn’t there, but is he a better offensive player because of his mobility and outside shooting? There’s other things and there’s the Lakers side of it, too. I would just like to see both players to have the best possible chance to fulfill their wishes.

Q: On what advice he’d give to Howard, or if he thinks Los Angeles is the best place for him:
Jackson: I think staying with a franchise and hanging in here, I think he likes the life here in L.A., I think he has hopes for success and the monetary issue is considerable. I have more Lakers blood in me than Houston Rockets blood for sure. At least extended family that runs this organization, I hope he remains a Laker.

Lakers Meet with Phil Jackson

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and Executive VP Jim Buss met with Phil Jackson on Saturday, and agreed to talk again in a couple of days.

The topic of conversation, of course, was the head coaching vacancy created by the firing of Mike Brown on Friday morning. Among those in favor of a third tour of duty for Jackson in Los Angeles is Kobe Bryant.

“You guys know how I feel about Phil,” said Bryant after Friday’s win over Golden State. “One thing that’s always bothered me is that his last year I wasn’t able to give him my normal self. I was playing on one leg and that’s always eaten away at me. The last year of his career, I wasn’t able to give him everything I had.

“For me, I took it to heart because I couldn’t give him everything I had because I physically couldn’t – my knee was shot. That’s always bothered me.”

Bryant is referencing the 4-0 sweep at the hands of Dallas in the 2011 Western Semi’s, when his knee was a big problem, and the team appeared mentally spent after three consecutive trips to the Finals. Bryant said Jackson’s greatness made it difficult on whoever was going to follow him.

“A lot of it is Phil’s fault,” Bryant offered. “He teaches guys to be thinkers. This is how he teaches. He teaches us the little nuances, the details and the intricacies of the game that just a lot of people don’t know. It’s no fault of their own. When it comes to basketball, he’s genius level. It’s tough for anybody to step in those shoes afterward from players that were raised underneath that tutelage.”

While Kupchak, Jim Buss and Dr. Jerry Buss determine the future of the coaching position, Bernie Bickerstaff will continue as interim head coach.

Bickerstaff gave the players the day off on Saturday in advance of Sunday’s home game against Sacramento.

Podcast: All About Phil

What was Phil Jackson like during his first championship run in Chicago? What characterized his interaction with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, or Kobe and Shaq? How did he play a critical role in MJ’s return from baseball? What was the 72-10 season like? How about Jackson’s transition to Los Angeles? Kobe and Shaq? Phil off the court? His legacy? What don’t people understand about Jackson?

To weigh in on such questions, we enlisted Chip Schaefer, the only person to literally be in the locker room with Jackson for each of his 11 championships. Schaefer, the head trainer with the Bulls from 1990-98, and a key member of Gary Vitti’s training staff in Los Angeles from 1999-present (currently, his title is Director of Athletic Performance/Player Development) Schaefer spent an hour with us on our Popcorn Machine podcast to relay many of his memories with Jackson.

For 20 NBA seasons, 13 ending up in the NBA Finals, Schaefer was often the first person to speak with Jackson at either the Bulls or Lakers’ facilities, and the topic of conversation could have been just about anything.

“The interesting thing, getting back to the point of there being so much more about Phil than just basketball, (is that) before you even touch on basketball you may walk in and there’s something in current events, politics or life in general that you might discuss for five minutes,” said Schaefer. “That’s one of the things that I found uniquely refreshing about him.”

There are plenty of personal memories of Jackson from many years as the coach’s trainer, as well as Schaefer’s reflections and observations of Jackson’s relationship with players like Jordan.

One story he tells is how Jackson reacted to Jordan’s abrupt retirement prior to the 1993-94 season, and how Jackson having Jordan’s best interest at heart (Schaefer said His Airness could sniff out B.S. in a second) helped create the environment in which Jordan could return to the team. When Jordan actually returned, Schaefer remembers the first conversation between the two, before most had arrived at the Bulls’ facility, when Jordan expressed his sorrow for Schaefer’s father having passed away shortly prior to that day.

To describe Jackson’s influence on players, Schaefer told an anecdote about how Jackson, fiery in his first few years in Chicago in particular, would get thrown out of at least a few games a season. Schaefer at some point asked former Bull John Paxson why the Bulls generally played so poorly when Jackson got tossed, as such an act can often spur better effort out of players.

“There’s just something about him, whether it’s the size, the voice, the command presence that he has,” Paxson told Schaefer, explaining that there was just a belief, a confidence that players picked up from Jackson that soothed or inspired during tough moments. Whatever “it” was, Schaefer said it grew and grew with each championship. Even so, Schaefer said the season that impressed him the most may have been 1994-95, when Jordan was playing baseball, and the Bulls still won 55 games.

Schaefer talks about how after the 1998 Bulls championship, he took a job with Oakley that board member Jordan helped set up, and subsequently what Jackson said to him on the phone to bring him onto his new Lakers staff. He described the differences between the first Lakers three-peat team and the current version that went to three straight Finals, remembered the Kobe-Shaq relationship more for success on the court than any personality differences off it, detailed the importance of Jackson empowering his assistant coaches in part so that the players didn’t drown out his voice as the season wore on, and more.

You can listen to the full interview by clicking here, or download the podcast from iTunes under “The Popcorn Machine on”

Phil Jackson: 2010-11 Exit Interview

Phil Jackson concluded the greatest coaching career in NBA history with the most coaching championships (11), the highest regular season winning percentage (70.4 percent), the fourth most regular season wins (1,155), the most playoff wins of all-time and the highest playoff winning percentage (68.8 percent). In 20 seasons, he went to the Finals 13 times (65 percent).

Below is a summary of Jackson’s final interview with the collected media:

- Opening Statement:

I wanted to thank the L.A. fans, the Lakers fans particularly have been generous to me. When I first came here they thanked me for coming to L.A.; I hope they thank me for leaving. Members of the press have been just about 99 and a half percent good to me to, so thank you guys for all the generous comments you made over the years. It’s been a remarkable run, everybody knows that, and it was a devastating loss. We have to accept that and move forward as a team. Players these last couple of days all have resolve to come back and finish it better. I like what I saw with the players, (who were) I think humbled. They know that they have to find a way to build that chemistry back that makes a team move in the right direction as one.

- On what the Lakers need moving forward: “It’s still a good team. It needs to build speed. It needs to have some speed and they get some easy baskets as a group. I think that’s the biggest key in basketball, you have to be able to find a way to score that’s not always in a set offense, not always in the half court offense.”

- Phil was not emotional. Perhaps his players were, but not him. He was doing just fine.

- On running the triangle offense, and if L.A. should sustain the system: “There are four or five players that really know how to work it pretty well. There were players that struggled with it … but there are always going to be players that aren’t into execution. But this is something that cost us in the end result, an inability to execute when we needed to.”

Phil on how he was able to do what he did as a coach: “I’ll sum it up (by saying) talent wins. When you have talent to coach, it makes all the difference in the world. I’ve coached some of the best talent that’s ever played the game. That’s a real fact of the matter. To be able to generate momentum so it wasn’t just one trick and it was over, has a lot to do with the staff that joined me. Tex Winter, Johnny Bach, Jim Cleamons, Jimmy Rodgers, Frank Hamblen, Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis and Chuck Person … Bill Cartwright was there for a year, and Johnny Paxon in Chicago. So there was a combination of people that came into the staff that were dedicated to what we were doing, were interested in the execution. Tex Winter was a stalwart companion of mine as a coach for 15 years of these 20, so that was real good teamwork that we had together. It was a lot of fun, and players caught on and got with it. The strengths that I have are probably are about community, about groups, about the chemistry on a team.”

- Phil mentioned that the first time he interviewed for a head coaching job he didn’t know X’s and O’s as well as he should have, and didn’t get the gig. Figuring out how to make a last second play work wasn’t always his strength, and Jackson said that strategy elements weren’t what he was best at throughout his career.

- Phil on what he wants to do in retirement:
“Some of the musings that I have always had are adventures. I was a kid that liked to read Robinson Crusoe. The last time I had a year off I traveled to the South Pacific, but I realized on that trip I was not physically capable of that kind of adventure.” He’d like to get back to that type of thing if he’s physically capable. One thing he might like to do is travel the world east to west and north to south on a motorcycle, like he said Johnny Rogers did.

- On players putting pressure on themselves to win for him: “That’s the way I anticipated it to be. I thought they played with that on their shoulders a little bit this season, but I thought that was OK for them to do that, a good challenge. But I wanted it to be about themselves, to three-peat and go out with that kind of opportunity to finish like that would have been a special occasion.”

- Phil on what he’s learned from his players: “How to be patient and generous … they’re impetuous and impulsive kids, a lot of the times that we get here, and they’re awfully strong willed, and that’s what makes them good players. They’ve taught me a lot.”

- Jackson’s ability to build a relationship with Kobe in the second stint was rewarding to him, as was re-capturing his relationship with Derek Fisher, the two players serving as his captains. One of the reasons Jeanie Buss called him to return to the team in the first place was to build those bridges again, and create the strength of character in the organization.

- Phil doesn’t think he’ll particularly miss coaching so much after retiring, and is definitely not be interested in broadcasting.

- Jackson didn’t want to use the word “love” to describe how he felt about coaching, choosing rather to say that he was “challenged by it. Essentially, it is the next best thing to actually playing basketball for a competitor, and Jackson’s an extremely competitive person.

- Jackson was asked how he could be sure that he doesn’t want to coach again when, inevitably, another team calls him down the road: “Today I’m sure.” Then he almost slipped in: “What it’s going to be like in six months, who knows?” This was the first time he’d even hinted at something like that, but we can’t be sure if he was just suggesting he can’t predict the future, or actually wasn’t sure if he’d ever want to coach again.

- Phil said he’s always thought of himself as an outsider in the coaching community. In fact, he never wanted to be a coach in the first place, when first thinking about it as his coach Red Holtzman urged, wondering why he’d want to get involved with all the coaching “knuckleheads” he had around him. He wondered why he’d want to get himself involved in anything so difficult. Once actually looking for a job in the NBA after having successes in the CBA, Jackson didn’t really have a coaching tree to cling on to, instead just blazing his own path.

Phil Jackson Postgame Quotes

Phil Jackson’s postgame quotes from what he said will be his final game:

“Well I don’t think I’ve seen a team play to that level in a series in a game like they played this afternoon. They [Dallas] were terrific. I didn’t think we played bad to start the ballgame, but that second quarter it was like the roof fell in on us. I wasn’t happy with the way our players exited the game, on Lamar [Odom’s] and Andrew’s [Bynum’s] part. It was unnecessary, but I know they were frustrated. And Barea was one of the guys that really frustrated us tonight. Other than that the Lakers will have to go back and put it back together, again, to have a team that comes back and challenges next year.”

(Are you stunned that 6 days ago the Lakers were being talked about as the favorite to win the West and her you’re sitting now?) – No, I’m not. I think I told you guys all along that Dallas is a very good team. We had the same record they had during the season. And they played better as a team than we did.”

(Were you worried after New Orleans gave you such a hassle in the first round that this might happen?) – “No, there’s a way we can play that we can win ballgames. We had to play a style that was refined and a pace that was ours. We were able to do that for three-and-half quarters in both the first and the third games in the series, but we weren’t able to finish them off. That’s the difference. Perhaps Dallas is a little deeper team, a little more talented off the bench than we were and it came to bear during the course of these playoffs.”

(Have you coached your final game, if so what are the emotions of the moment?) – “[It] feels really good to be ending this season to be honest with you. I came back this last year with some trepidation. Kobe’s knee was an issue and obviously our team was older. The thrill of trying to chase a three-peat is always an exciting thing. But, yes, I knew it was a big challenge for this team to three-peat. We’ve gone to the Finals and to go back twice and win it after losing ’08 puts a lot of strain on the basketball club from all angles: personalities, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and getting charged up for game after game and assault after assault when you go in and play a team. So, it was a challenge bigger that we could beat this year.”

(And you final game I assume? Was this your last game?) – “I haven’t answered that, have I? And you’re not going to force me to answer it. But, yes, this is in all my hopes and aspirations that this is the final game that I’ll coach. This has been a wonderful run. I go out with a sour note after being fined $35,000 this morning by the league, so that’s not fun having a feeling like I’ve been chased down the freeway by them. But as Richard Nixon says, ‘You won’t be able to kick this guy around anymore.’”

(You’re not a sentimental guy, but what did you tell the guys in the locker room right now?) – “That we’re disappointed in the way we finished the game. We wanted to have a good game. I didn’t like the way Andrew and Lamar finished like I mentioned just now. We ran into a buzz saw today. Sometimes you can’t get a win. You’d like to have an opportunity to challenge but we didn’t.”

Phil Jackson Fined $35,000

The NBA announced on Sunday morning that Phil Jackson was fined $35,000 for “public comments about the officiating,” according to Stu Jackson, league Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Jackson’s comments came prior to Saturday’s practice, when he took issue with how Pau Gasol was being defended throughout the playoffs.

Phil Jackson Postgame 3 Quotes

Below is a transcription of Phil Jackson’s comments after L.A.’s 98-92 loss to Dallas in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi Finals:

(Opening statement)
Jackson: Again, as in Game 1, they finished better than we did. That was the difference in the ball game. They got to the foul line in the second half and we didn’t. They made some threes in the fourth quarter and we didn’t. They deserved to win and we didn’t.

Q: You were animated during timeouts. What were you telling your guys?
Jackson: I thought we were spending too much energy instead of just playing the game and just playing through things.

Q: At one point you hit Pau in the chest. What did you say to him?
Jackson: He grabbed the ball in the half court and wasn’t aware that he was holding it in the position we always ask him not to put it in and Terry took it from behind and went down and got a layup. I was just making sure he understood he needed to take care of the basketball in those sequences.

Q: Do you feel you can get a full, solid game from Pau the next game or is his confidence level shaky?
Jackson: Well, he’s been through enough playoffs games to know the deal that you can come back and play games. Tonight Andrew was the guy that again in the first half, the strength of our ball club. We wanted to take advantage of that, so Pau didn’t have that many opportunities. And tonight, I’m sure he’d like to have a couple of them back at the end of the game.”

Q: Your reaction to going down 3-0:
Jackson: “Well we’re disappointed. We felt like Games 1 and 3 we controlled the pace of the game, but just couldn’t finish the game. They were better finishing the games out than we were, so that’s a big disappointment to us. But we still believe we’re going to win the next game, and we’ll go from there.

Q: On getting Ron Artest back:
Jackson: Yeah, we can use Ron. We hope he’s back playing his game. One of the things tonight that hurt us was the rotation to the three point line covering that. It’s tough for our bigger guys. Lamar had seven opportunities, and some of our other guys had opportunities, but they didn’t get out to cover that line.

Q: What do you tell you team being down 3-0?
Jackson: We just said that we didn’t finish the game well, that we’re disappointed in our ability to cover the line. That we double-teamed Nowitzki ineffectively and irrationally a couple of times at the end of the game, which is something we don’t want to do. He matched up with Gasol on him. If we come back and play the same game we’re going to win another game. We played too well to lose, is what I said.

Quick Practice Chat From Phil Jackson

Coming off an extended session with the media on Saturday, Phil Jackson kept his comments pretty brief after Sunday’s session at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.

Among his comments: the practice session was more crisp and focused than Saturday’s, which pleased Jackson.

A concern he brought up is the three days between games, which is good for health/rest purposes, but affects how sharp his Lakers may be.

“A lot of it has to do with being just game ready,” he explained. “If we feel like we’re still in that mode and have that sense of urgency I think it really brings a lot more to the game for us. We know how important Game 1′s are in a series, they really set the tone.”

A question was asked about Kobe Bryant’s ankle/foot, and Jackson said Bryant did go through some training, but not anything on the court. He also shared his opinion that Bryant would ultimately be OK.

“He’ll be all right,” said the coach. “I don’t know how sharp he can be if he has that many days off and hasn’t played, (but) he’ll find a way.”

Phil & Kobe’s Lakers Great in Close Out Games

While past performance is no guarantee of future results, the Lakers head into Thursday evening’s Game 6 in New Orleans with a 3-2 lead and a chance to do something they’ve accomplished with remarkable success: close out a playoff opponent on the first try.

The Lakers have closed out 10 of their last 11 opponents on their first try, including winning all four elimination games last season. Three of the four 2010 playoff close outs occurred on the road, with L.A. winning at Oklahoma City in Game 6 (95-94) when up 3-2, at Utah (111-96) when up 3-0 and at Phoenix (111-103) when up 3-2. Then in the NBA Finals, L.A. beat Boston 83-79 in Game 7 when tied at three in the series.

They were nearly as good in the 2009 title run, closing out the Jazz, Nuggets and Magic on their first opportunity, while losing only to the Rockets in a potential close out Game 6, just the third time since 2001 they’d failed to do so, and the only time since Pau Gasol came over in 2008.

Since 2001, L.A. has closed out opponents on the first try 21 times in 24 opportunities, with a 2006 loss at Phoenix and 2004 defeat at Minnesota serving as the other two L’s. And with Phil Jackson on the sideline, the Lakers have won 21-of-28 close out opportunities, and 32 of their last 33 series when having an opportunity to close at any point. The only time L.A. held a series lead and lost came against Phoenix in 2006, when 3-1 turned into 4-3. The last blown lead had come in 1993 (Phoenix).

Considering how difficult it is to win even one playoff series in the NBA, what Jackson and the Lakers have done is mind-boggling even to a coach with four championship rings of his own in San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.

“The incredible nature of what (Jackson’s) done I don’t think has really sunken in on people,” he said before L.A.’s April 12 win over the Spurs. “To win three in a row as many times as he’s done … as I said the last time I was here, I’ve tried 90 times and can’t win a second time in a row. So for him to do that with two different teams is just beyond my comprehension, and that’s not blowing smoke.

“I don’t know Phil, we don’t go out and have beers, I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve gotten to know him or anything. So I just see him from afar and see what he’s done, and it’s absolutely incredible to me. That kind of winning, that kind of pressure, that kind of persistence year after year after year to get those wins is remarkable. Whatever plaudits he receives once he does retire, whether it’s this year or next year or five years, they’re certainly deserved.”

The top-seeded Spurs, facing a 3-1 deficit to the eighth-seeded Grizzlies, managed to survive in incredible fashion in an overtime victor on Wednesday to force Game 6, thanks in part to some great late-game execution of Popovich out-of-bounds plays.

And while San Antonio will continue their attempt at coming back, Jackson and the Lakers will try and close an opponent out at the first opportunity, something that’s become quite familiar in recent years.

Lakers Win 50 Games, Again

With Sunday evening’s victory over Portland, the Lakers hit the 50-win mark — now 51 after Tuesday’s win over Phoenix — for the fourth consecutive season, and 32nd time in their storied franchise history.

The NBA didn’t adopt an 82-game schedule until 1967-68, after which 29 of those 50-plus victory campaigns came.

The percentage of very successful seasons has been just as high under current owner Dr. Jerry Buss, who has seen his team post 50-win seasons 23 times since he took over in 1979-80.

Phil Jackson, meanwhile, has now won at least 50 games in 17 of his 20 seasons as an NBA head coach. Back on March 12 in Dallas, Jackson won his 600th career regular season game as coach of the Lakers, becoming the fifth coach in NBA history to win at least 600 with one franchise, joining Jerry Sloan (1,127 with Utah), Red Auerbach (795 with Boston), Gregg Popovich (793 with San Antonio) and his former coach Red Holzman (613 with New York).

Jackson is the only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (1,148-480, .705) and currently ranks fifth all-time in regular season victories, as well as first in playoff wins (225) and playoff win percentage (.697).