Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Good-Bye and Good Riddance...

Goodbye Phil Jackson, the one coach in all the NBA who perpetually managed to suck the air out of every room he entered these last few years. The haughty arrogance, the insufferable hubris, the contrived pseudo-Zen Master bullshit, the geeky, uncoordinated Frankenstein-esque physique is now a thing of the past. No more we will marvel at his sheer and utter genius sitting on the sidelines in his specially made orthopedic chair that kept his hips from popping out of their sockets after all the surgeries made hm a virtual cripple.

Sportscasters on ESPN cannot come up with enough superlatives for him. He is the greatest coach of ALL sports. He is the greatest motivator of great athletes the world has ever seen. He is the greatest living man not on Mount Rushmore. Believe me, his head is so big they won't need to carve it alongside the other cats who are up there. All they have to do is make a plaster cast of it, shrink it to fit, and just set it right beside the others.

In the jock-sniffing, testicle-slurping world of TV and radio sports talk, there is never room to criticize the sacred cows of modern-day athletics. That's why their collective lack of perspective must be balanced by blogs like this. Phil Jackson is an overrated front runner who couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag when things got tough. Never has one man received more accolades for being responsible for so little. He is the NBA equivalent of the asshole corporate CEO's who get paid to do absolutely nothing and live only to take credit for what others have accomplished.

His last game during this year's NBA Playoffs is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The Lakers were, for whatever reason, clearly under-achieving and absolutely unmotivated. When a 6-7 athlete like Ron Artest slams the ball on the bottom of the rim on a breakaway dunk attempt (that's called "catching a spasm" in inner-city parlance, due to how one's back curls into itself like an accordion when this maneuver is accomplished) clearly the Lakers were not ready for prime time. But isn't it not the job of the coach to gauge the collective mood of the team and then make the necessary tweaks to make sure they are prepared to go out and compete?

Phil Jackson didn't so this because he couldn't. His strength was never about his steely resolve or his cynical, sarcastic wit. It was his ability to be at the right place at the right time coaching some of the best basketball players that ever walked the Earth. Someone please explain to me how hard it could possibly be to win 11 championships with players like Shaquille O'Neil, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and a whole host of other great players that complimented their teams beautifully. But game 4 against Dallas exposed Jackson for what he truly is. As for the Lakers, old they are not. The best players on the team are all younger than it's star, Kobe Bryant. Their two pivotal bench players, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes, were injured most of the year and were probably still not 100%. Here is where and why they failed-

1) Ron Artest, the NBA's Special Education poster boy, was a shell of his former self this year. No longer was he the dominating defensive presence capable of shutting down the opposing team's most talented  athletic perimeter players. All he can do now is shoot inadvertent threes and make stupid, punk-ass fouls against players running rings around him like my man J.J. Barea. He needs to go, but who will want to pick up his contract? No one, that's who. The problem with Artest is that he's not a winner. He was happy with the one ring and you'll never see him play like last season ever again.

2) Another cat running on fumes is Derrick Fisher. Enough with this guy already. Yes, he's a great team leader and excellent family man, but he's benefited from being surrounded by Hall of Fame players most of his career. An overachiever deluxe, it's time for him to move on to the front office or the coaching staff. He can't play anymore. Not for this team, he can't.The Lakers need a point guard with speed who can do more than hit shots only because someone else on the floor is being double and triple-teamed. The league is getting faster at the point guard position, and Fisher can no longer keep up.

3) How did Pau Gasol become Jackson's whipping boy this series with how terrible everyone else was playing? Gasol is probably the only player I've ever seen Jackson physically confront in a game with such vitriol. No way he goes from being the real MVP of the NBA Finals last year and the main reason the Lakers win the championship two years in a row to a Skid Row bum without a plausible explanation. Yes, he played like shit, but there is a reason for it that we don't know about. There has to be an explanation for why he's gone from so good to so bad so fast. Age cannot be the reason for his drop in production. He's still relatively young to have an age-induced fall-off of this magnitude.

I would have respected Jackson a lot more if he got in Bryant's face the way he got in Gasol's during that last game. He certainly wasn't the the only player to blame for this monumental breakdown. Here is my conjecture on this matter-

The Lakers are an extension of their star. There have been selfish, me-first players all through the history of sports but Bryant takes the cake. He sets the tone, and he is the one who is a direct reflexion of how they collectively gave up.
The Lakers organization got the most out of this team. They were fortunate to win last year, especially given the fact that if it wasn't for Gasol doing so well and Boston's center Kendrick Perkins getting hurt we wouldn't be having this conversation. But it's time to break this team up or get as coach who can reign in assholes like Andrew Bynam, who takes losing as well as Woody Hayes, the Alabama football coach who went out onto the field and assaulted an opposing player after catching an interception against his team.

The insufferably bush league flagrant foul by Andrew Bynam on J.J. Barea encapsulates the collective psyche of the team. Outplayed throughout the whole series and utterly embarrassed during the deciding game 4 blowout, Bynam decides to go out like the asshole sore loser Bryant and coach Jackson have been throughout their whole careers by elbowing the Dallas guard in mid-air. Barea then crashes to the ground in a heap. Bynam walks off the court after being ejected while removing his jersey, exposing the whole world to his disgusting man-boobs. Son, next time make sure you're in shape enough to pull such a stunt. No one wanted to witness such a repulsive spectacle. C'mon, Andrew-there are kids watching.

It has been revealed by Brian Shaw that the Lakers organization treated their assistant coaching staff poorly and never gave them a chance to interact harmoniously with the players Phil Jackson could no longer motivate. His coaching style is best described as a man showing up for a game and simply stating. "I'm Phil Jackson". That's it. His hubris and monumental sense of self was always at the heart of his coaching technique. When that no longer worked, his teams caved in from the weight of their own arrogance.  We've seen this type of collapse three times in the NBA Finals-once when he had Gary Peyton and Karl Malone, another was when the Celtics blew them out to win the championship a few years ago and again this season. And each time Jackson could not find a way to motivate his teams to make it look respectable. All three times they just fell apart with no sense of pride whatsoever.

Why? Because Jackson, coaching the best talent in the league, is a front runner. He only shines when he has a bomb squad motivated to win. He could never be considered a master tactician when the fact is his players carried him for every single one of his NBA championships. Now that his noxious, putrid and arthritic schtick has finally run its' course, he leaves. Good-bye, you asshole. No longer will we have to be subjected to watching you on the sideline falling asleep, drooling out of the side of your mouth.

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