Archive for the 'Phil Jackson' Category

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The Art of Coaching

Throughout the 2010-11 Lakers season, Phil Jackson has maintained that this will be his last campaign, and his players are trying to send him out with a would-be ridiculous fourth three-peat, picking up their play to win 10-of-11 games out of the All-Star break.

On the other side of the Atlantic, some of Jackson’s core coaching principles are being carried out by a soccer (er, futebol), coach named José Mourinho.

The 48-year old Portugese skipper, currently of Spain’s Real Madrid, has led three different club soccer teams from the top leagues in Portugal (F.C. Porto), Italy (Inter Milan) and England (Chelsea) to 14 major titles, including soccer’s version of the world club championship, the Champions League, twice.

Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl recently profiled Mourinho (“What’s So Special about José Mourinho) for the magazine, where we learned of the connection to Jackson.

As Mourinho has risen to the summit, he has expanded his horizons, analyzing the management styles at Microsoft and Apple, reading Colin Powell’s autobiography and Phil Jackson’s books, studying John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

We had a chance to ask Jackson if he was familiar with Mourinho (yes), relayed Wahl’s quote about having his books read by one of the world’s best in a different sport and asked Jackson if he could see certain parallels between coaching the two sports.

“It’s a compliment, I’ll take it as such,” Jackson replied. “I think soccer is a game that’s very much like basketball in the fact that you’re almost running triangles. It’s a bigger group of guys, but it’s similar to what we’re doing in many ways because it’s about chemistry, it’s a flow game like basketball.”

Jackson pointed out that while the Lakers will score roughly 50 field goals per game, and Real Madrid two or three goals, other similarities exist, both technically and philosophically.

“The aspect of getting good shots and opportunities, setting it up and deploying the defense while committing to an extra pass or two (is similar),” he said. “To get guys to really commit to their teammates and what the purpose is of what you’re doing out there is where the similarity is.”

The latter being a central tenet of the greatest coaching career in NBA history.

“The thing that separates Phil is that he teaches his teams how to problem solve,” said Lakers star Kobe Bryant over the summer. “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.”

Jackson mentioned the word “flow” while describing soccer, recognizing that the coach can do little compared to many sports once the game begins. It makes creating a system that players buy into all the more important, as well as the aspect of motivation where Wahl says Mourinho excels.

Ask people what makes Mourinho unique, and one common response is this: His players almost universally adore him. Didier Drogba, the prolific Chelsea striker, says he felt “like an orphan” after Mourinho departed West London in 2007. “He’s a great man,” Drogba says. “You can see how close players are with him. He has a way of getting into players’ minds as a manager—and as a man, the kind of man who’s ready to give you all his confidence and trust because he expects that you’ll give it back.

“Getting into players’ minds as a manager” and inspiring “confidence and trust” are things we’ve long heard from Jackson’s players.

“He has a great knack for bringing guys together,” said Bryant. “He’s not a rah-rah coach. I think (certain coaches) 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.”

Lakers backup point guard Steve Blake has played 68 games under Jackson, and said he’s been fully on board from the onset.

“It’s been awesome,” he revealed. “We can win a great game or lose a bad game and still, it’s just, ‘Let’s just come in the next day.’ Most coaches will yell or scream after the game, or jump up and down after a big win…

“I just appreciate how consistent he is, how he continues to make us better at both ends of the floor. A lot of teaching, a lot of watching film and correcting ourselves. I really enjoy the consistency and the knowledge he brings every day.”

“Our personality of our team is made up of his thought process, his philosophies,” concluded Bryant.

Perhaps Jackson will flip on the TV after Lakers practice on Wednesday and see how Mourinho has imparted his philosophy when Real Madrid takes on Lyon of France in the Round of 16 of the Champions League.

Barnes Back in Action

In L.A.’s Sunday blowout of the Spurs, Matt Barnes played his first minutes since Jan. 7 against New Orleans, 25 games sacrificed to his recovery from torn meniscus in his right knee.

Barnes was on the court for nearly 14 minutes, hitting his first field goal from three-point range, then missing all but one of the next five shots he took. He moved well throughout, was as active on the glass (six boards) in limited time as he was prior to being injured and showed some of his well-known grit while committing three personal fouls.

“I’ll need to get back fully into rhythm,” Barnes said prior to the team’s Monday practice in Atlanta. “I don’t think wind will be an issue because I’m sure my minutes will be monitored, so it’s really just about getting a rhythm and trying not to do too much.

“I was 1-for-2 from the three-point line and the second one rattled out. I think I just have to focus on my layups — I missed a couple last night. But my shot feels fine, and it will be there as I get more and more in shape.”

Being out with an injury is one of the tougher mental barriers to hurdle for NBA players, but Barnes credits his mentality throughout in part to his coach.

“(Phil Jackson is) great with communication,” said Barnes. “Someone on his level, there can be a wall up to new guys or younger guys, but Phil’s been very open with me. We always talk, and it’s been a great relationship so far.”

Sitting on the sidelines and observing helped Barnes — who maintained full confidence in his new team and even shared his thoughts publicly through his Twitter account* — understand what Jackson has had in mind.
*From @Matt_Barnes22 after L.A.’s loss at the buzzer to San Antonio on Feb. 3: “Remember its a marathon not a sprint. No need for panic. When we are completely healthy & focused. No team can beat us in a seven game series.”

“That’s what makes Phil great, his on and off the court preparation for our team,” Barnes explained. “Being in L.A., we’re expected to go 82-0, and when we hit lulls (a lot of people) thinks the season is over and that we’re going to fail, but Phil knows how to keep our minds in it and keeps us focused on what’s important.”

Barnes (25 games) and Andrew Bynum (24) have been the only two Lakers to miss any amount of significant time this season, but since Bynum returned to the starting line up and Barnes has been available off the bench, L.A. is 6-1 and counting heading into Tuesday evening’s contest at Atlanta.

Phil Jackson Talks Artest, Cuban, Etc.

Below is a transcript of a selection of Phil Jackson’s comments in his regular media session prior to L.A.’s Tuesday evening home game against Detroit, including Jackson’s reactions to a “man-to-man” confrontation with Ron Artest at practice and some comments from Mark Cuban.

You can also listen to the audio by clicking play at the bottom of the post.

On if a Yahoo! report referring to a practice confrontation initiated by Ron Artest were accurate:
Jackson: No, that’s not accurate. But it’s close to accurate. It was not a loud confrontation, it was a man-to-man confrontation. It was obviously out of character for both that to happen in practice and for Ron. It wasn’t about (my) embarrassing (Ron) in public, it was about some of the issues that had been brought up and were focused (on) him. It was direct, but it wasn’t loud … It’s nothing more than what could normally happen at a practice. Obviously there is a spy, or camera, or leak or something went on at our practice, but those are the things that happen at practice. It’s not the first time, and it’s not going to be the last. Ron came in and apologized not only to me but in front of the team for what he said was a distraction at practice. That was his own desire to do so, I didn’t solicit it from him.

In Ron’s defense, I’ve been trying to motivate him through a variety of activities, starting from the very beginning. Talking about his activity level, and sometimes about his bizarre behavior. He wants it to be in private. I just said, ‘Don’t act it out in public and then we can keep it private.’

On if the conversation will affect the way Jackson interacts with Artest:
Jackson: Sure.

On Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban’s comments to his assessment of Caron Butler’s injury:
Jackson: Mark must be really worried. If he’s got to comment on that, he must be really worried. I feel badly for (the Mavericks), that’s what I was saying. It’s hard to replace a player that good. They do have a good player that’s sitting behind him. Shawn (Marion) is a fine player, but it’s not Caron Butler. It’s hard to replace a player like that.

On Cuban referring to Jackson as Lakers VP Jeanie Buss’s “Boy Toy.”
Jackson: I love it. I consider myself an old man. That I’m a “Boy Toy,” that’s terrific … Mark gets riled up when I make comments about his team, but they were leading the league. It’s a big blow to a team that’s playing that well.

On why he feels reactions to the comments he makes are so strong:
Jackson: They must be misconstrued. Either that, or the tenor in which I say them must not go the same way as the tenor of what the conversation is about. The one that is probably the most egregious is the Houston thing about disrespecting Rudy (Tomjanovich), because that was so off the cuff and so solicited by the reporter itself that it was kind of unfair to take those things on.

Phil Jackson Post-Houston Presser

Here’s a summary of Phil Jackson’s postgame presser with the media following L.A.’s 109-99 loss at Houston:

- On if it’s too early in the season to be concerned with the losing streak:
Jackson: It’s way too early in the season. We just have to hang on and (find) the right spot for our team to get better. We have some guys struggling, not playing well, but (some of) our guys I thought picked it up pretty well. I liked the bench tonight, they played pretty well. Shannon (Brown) and Matt (Barnes) both played well and I thought Steve (Blake) directed the team pretty good out there.

- Jackson said the Lakers shot the ball really well in the first half, but really struggled in the second, crediting Houston’s defense for picking up their defensive activity as each of the other three opponents L.A. has faced has during the losing streak also managed to do.

- On Gasol leaving the game with a tight hamstring before returning:
Jackson: We’re concerned about it. We’re concerned about the way he played tonight. He didn’t play with any activity, had probably his worst game of the season. He had some hamstring injuries and I think it was mostly physical (and not mental).

-On if the fact that none of his 11 championship teams ever lost four straight games was interesting:
Jackson: I don’t think so. You can’t compare (different seasons), it’s too obscure. (The players) need some life in their legs. They’ll get it this weekend, we have a couple of days off*.
*After Friday’s game against Sacramento, the Lakers have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off before playing Washington on Tuesday.

- Jackson said that the Lakers needed “another finger to put in the dike.” He acknowledged that Andrew Bynum would practice on Thursday, but wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was Bynum’s finger they needed.

- On what went wrong in the second half:
Jackson: Kevin Martin had 20 second half points … a lot of it was about fouls, he has 10 free throws. Battier got a set of three free throws (also), and those are things that certainly (affect the outcome). Those are just mistakes, errors, we should know better than that.

Phil Jackson Practice Thoughts

103895482GD000_Lakers_Bucks_GDBelow are some of the finer points of Phil Jackson’s post-practice media session on Thursday in Minneapolis:

- Jackson weighed in on Andrew Bynum’s potential return, saying that while there is still no date set, he now thinks that the road trip beginning on Dec. 10 at Chicago is at least a feasible goal. Jackson added that Bynum hasn’t been completely comfortable in drills with assistant coach Chuck Person, particularly those that ask him to move laterally like shooting left-handed hooks. Jackson re-iterated what Bynum told us yesterday, saying that “We want this to be right and we want him to last for the whole season … we don’t want to rush this.” At the same time, Jackson said the team “was not backing down” from the team’s original timetable, and he expects Bynum back in practice soon.

- When asked if Jackson thought Kobe Bryant’s legs have looked particularly active of late for a guy that had surgery in the offseason, he explained that yes, limited practice time has helped even at the occasional expense of his shooting stroke: “I thought on Tuesday night in Milwaukee he was maybe rusty even. I didn’t think he shot the ball well, everything was off the drive. But I think he used that game kind of as a practice, and he was able to step up last night and shoot the ball (in Detroit). He hasn’t practiced consistently and that’s one of the values of knowing what we do an how to do it (being veterans), so we’ve been limiting a lot of our activity as we go through this eight-game-in-15-day sequence. He’s benefited a lot from staying off the court, being strong and ready to play, but sometimes his shooting is just not right and he still finds a way to score, still finds something to do for the team.”

- (On if there is a big difference between players playing 35 and 40 minutes, for example): “Over a season, yes. It’s just that drain on your legs. But the real pressure is about in the game stuff, if you have six to eight sequences inside of a minute because there are so many stoppages of play. You’re grinding it out, people are throwing their bodies around on the floor and it gets to resemble playoff basketball for a minute. Those are the things that wear players out. But if a team has an ability to play (a player) 32 or 36 minutes and have the luxury of cruising in at the end, it helps them a lot.”

- Jackson thought the Wolves, Friday’s opponent, had a “purpose” in the second half against the Lakers in L.A., and thought Kevin Love was effective in the center spot and particularly on the offensive glass, while Michael Beasley can hurt teams with his elite scoring on the wing.

- Phil also spent some time talking about his former assistant coach Kurt Rambis, for whom Jackson said he roots not because Rambis was on Jackson’s staff but because he and Rambis are friends. He added that the primary reason more of his former assistants haven’t become head coaches is simply that they were older coaches, exemplified by Tex Winter. He does expect that both Brian Shaw and Chuck Person will be head coaches in the NBA, and would like to see Jim Cleamons get a head coaching job in college if not in the NBA once again.

Phil Jackson Unlikely to Coach Friday

62092429Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson, dealing from flu-like symptoms, could miss his second straight preseason contest on Friday night in Ontario when the Lakers face the Golden State Warriors for the second time in as many nights.

Team spokesman John Black said that it was “unlikely” for Jackson to coach on Friday, though a final decision has not yet been made as the man with 13 total NBA rings was scheduled to go see a doctor.

Jackson didn’t make the trip to San Diego for Thursday evening’s 120-99 win against Golden State, charging assistant coach Brian Shaw with running the team in his absence.

A former player under Jackson for four seasons (1999-2000 to 2002-03), Shaw won three titles as a player and now two as an assistant. Shaw acknowledged that the primary reason he took on head coaching duties in Thursday’s game was because each of Jackson’s four assistants (Shaw, Frank Hamblen, Jim Cleamons and Chuck Person) split up the NBA teams for scouting purposes, and Golden State is Shaw’s squad. While Shaw said that he enjoyed the experience of sitting in the big chair, he was simply keeping it warm until Jackson feels better.

“(Jackson’s) our leader, we’re just following his instructions and his lead on what he does,” said Shaw. “We hope he feels better and that he gets back soon.”

If Jackson does not make the trip east to Ontario, Shaw would again resume head coaching duties for the night.

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.”

Kobe Bryant Looks Good to Phil

98244836MW135_Oklahoma_CityWhile Andrew Bynum’s knee has received the most attention of late, Kobe Bryant also had his knee operated upon in the off-season, as detailed in a team press release on July 23:

“In response to recent media inquiries, it has been announced today that Kobe Bryant recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The successful surgery was performed last week. Bryant is currently undergoing rehab and is expected to be fully recovered prior to the start of the Lakers’ training camp on September 25.”

During his press conference on Friday morning at the team’s practice facility, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson offered further commentary on the two-time defending Finals MVP.

“He’s been working really hard the last month,” said Jackson. “Five, six weeks ago, (Lakers Director of Athletic Performance) Chip Schaefer sent me a note that said it looks like it’s going to be just working with Kobe during training camp and preseason games. (But) just recently, Kobe said he’s starting to move and feel the right way, and I anticipate he’s going to play some minutes even over in Europe.”

In other words, Bryant appears ready to go, as the first preseason game in Europe is only 10 days away, on Oct. 4 in London against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

We’ll hear from No. 24 himself on Saturday morning at the team’s media day. Follow along via the @LakersReporter and @Lakers Twitter accounts for live coverage, pictures and more starting at 11 a.m.

Coach’s Comments on Bynum’s Knee

D073839007Earlier this week, we learned that Andrew Bynum was unlikely to play in the preseason, but that the Lakers were “hopeful” the young center would be ready to go for the start of the regular season on Oct. 26 against Houston.

Bynum had surgery on July 28 to repair a small tear of the anterior horn of the lateral meniscus in his right knee, but subsequently found out that a longer recovery period than initially suspected was in order.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson shed some light upon the issue at his preseason press conference on Friday morning:

I don’t see how Andrew is going to be ready, and I really haven’t anticipated Andrew being ready to go at the beginning of the season. Now, that’s an unfortunate thing, but the type of surgery that the doctor did on his knee takes a little extra time. Obviously, we hadn’t prepared and Andrew certainly hadn’t prepared for the fact that it could was going to take an extra month and a half or so to rehab this type of surgery. I know he’s getting battered a little bit, and we could have had the operation a little bit earlier, but the end result is what he’s going to be like in May and June and that’s the important part.

It’s an unusual type of surgery. It’s not done very often. Obviously the area of the tear with Andrew is a very unusual tear, and Andrew has knees that, I think, have shown we have to be careful with them and this is something we hope is going to repair the knee in a way so it can be much more stable in the future.

Phil Jackson Preseason Presser

blog_100924philjacksonTO WATCH PART 1, CLICK HERE.

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, 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.