As we all know, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently the worst team in professional basketball, since they are the only team still playing to lose two straight home games in the playoffs. That’s called statistics, look it up. As such, people are kind of freaking out, wondering if this is the end of the Lakers’ title run and the premature end of a pseudo-dynasty. Plus, with Phil Jackson supposedly leaving at the end of the season, some think that Tuesday night’s loss to the Mavericks could be Jackson’s last game in Los Angeles.

Not so fast, says Philbert Jackson. In fact, he guarantees Los Angeles hasn’t seen the last of him. From the Los Angeles Times:

“I’d like to cry but I can’t right now,” he said, still continuing a light tone. “It’s a game and we know it’s a game and we play it and we play it hard. And we anticipate winning in Dallas.”

So he hasn’t coached his last game at Staples Center?

“We’ll be back Tuesday,” he said. That would be the day of Game 5.

Maybe I am forgetting something, but that might be our first guarantee of the playoffs. Glad we finally got that out of the way. Pretty weak, though. A coach who has led a team to a title 11 times assuring the media that his team will not be swept in the second round of the playoffs, isn’t quite Joe Namath predicting his team will win Super Bowl III.

Nonetheless, I have to imagine this is a pretty strong limb that Phil Jackson is going out on. Not only would it be pretty surprising for the Lakers to be swept out of the playoffs at any point, I also have a hard time believing that they can’t win one of two on the road with the metaphorical backs against some metaphorical walls. Say what you want about the Lakers not being able to flip the switch, but this is a team full of guys who know what it takes to win in the playoffs — you have to imagine they can win on the road at least once.

Of course, after that who knows? Maybe they win one game, then come back to Los Angeles only to be eliminated on their home floor. At least that way Phil Jackson gets another home game. Not quite the best way to go out, but it sure beats playing two years with the Wizards.

Comments (20)

  1. I think he just meant that there plane will be back Tuesday. LOL

  2. Can you just imagine how smug Kobe and Phi will be if they win the series

  3. Wasn’t Jameer Nelson kinda guaranteeing the Magic would go to the 2nd round?

  4. A fair point, Breyzh. But since that was technically during the regular season this still counts.

  5. Well, at least he didn’t guarantee winning the series. Fair enough.

  6. Lakers fans – I wager my basketball dignity on the fact that Phil Jackson is using Andrew Bynum as a mouthpiece because he’s lost complete control of the Lakers. And how can you tell this? Easy. In every abusive family there’s always one or two members who have to suffer more than the others because they can’t handle what’s happening. The family unit is one of the most dominant forms of group interaction known to mankind. A social phenomenon, with signs laid out by thousands of phycology case studies. So let’s look to the Lakers with eye for “clear and convincing evidence”.

    Clue one, Pau Gasol, featured in telenovelas in South America, and dropping approximately 5 ppg, and 3 assists throughout the course of the season? Go ahead and put aside the differences in his numbers, his passion and confidence are muted.

    Clue two, Ron Artest, miserable all season until his play picked up in the 17 game winning streak. That was until yesterday when the guy committed the dirtiest foul since Raja Bell’s clothesline on Kobe in the failing Phoenix-led seasons.

    There’s a problem in the Laker tribe and the Shaman is working to fix it.
    As a basketball fan I am ultimately a fan of Phil Jackson. Only when the curtain is lifted do you see the outward success of a basketball team. Somebody has to write the script. In games, Jackson is notorious for sitting his players during the course of huge runs, or leaving them out to dry. Ultimately he controls the ability to be seen on the greatest stage of criticism and love.

    By playing with rotations recently Jackson has been making it very clear that his view of the status quo has changed. There are no extreme injuries like Bynums knee in seasons past. Not even a sprained ankle as in last week’s headlines. But we’ve seen Pau Gasol head to bench as the first man to check out of the game. We’ve also seen Phil sit Kobe and the first unit for longer and longer stretches in the fourth quarter. Perhaps to observers it’s just a coach opting to give his players more rest. I promise you this – Kobe does not want rest in the fourth quarter with the team down 6. Phil Jackson’s use of timeouts and decisions on substitutions are his greatest tools.

    Perhaps otherwise clueless members of the Buss family take credit for Bynum’s retention. But at a deeper level it is evident that Byum is a player completely molded on Phil’s principles. Unlike Kobe, who’s personal drive defined him long before he became a coach. Add in Michael Jordan before him. Even Pau Gasol and Shaq were established entities in the league before calling Phil coach. None have been exclusive products of Phil’s wisdom.

    What do we know about Bynum that makes him similar to a young Phil Jackson? He’s an intellectual with the means to be great and who arrived from the draft with no ingrained knowledge of the game. Tablua rasa. Bynum is Phil’s greatest achievement and a testament to the idea that true greatness is features in the season-long contest that lasts far longer than 48 minutes.

    Andrew Byum, is my favorite player on the team. He is the guy I often spend most of my time watching on the court. He is exactly my age. But from knowing him so well, it was immediately apparent from his diction in the interview after the Game 2 loss to Dallas that someone had given him developed arguments to present to the media. Perhaps from someone who is eloquent yet capable of being frank when necessary in front of the media. Someone who has been winning over crowds of reporters since he arrived in 1999. What Bynum orated last was the final chapters of a yet to be completed, “Gospel of Phil.”

    When asked if the problems in the locker room were “personal thing or a basketball thing?” Bynum replied with the almost biblical conviction and clarity of Aaron, “I mean, it’s basketball so it’s definitely both.”

    Consider Bynum’s astute evaluation in the context of their close-relationship which became public during the post-All Star win run – Jackson put his protégé to use. As evidenced brilliantly in Ronald Lazenby’s book on Jackson, Sacred Hoops, the press conference featured Jackson’s deft use of personality and timing in forcing a final public shift of a team’s leadership.

    Using the center’s defensive stature and offensive promise, Phil Jackson is elevating Bynum to the Alpha dog role. More importantly, Jackson is telling the world that Bynum is the Laker’s greatest hope for a return to greatness.

    In the process Phil is placing the blame of this Maverick induced Watergate on an denying elephant with the sting of a Black Mamba. This last trick begs the question, what was the Mamba’s crime?

    Perhaps it was setting a bad example by taking on huge multi-national corporate sponsorships that pull players away from the team? Or maybe it was just not running the offense?

    What do you guys think?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLkHMCsNMO0&feature=player_embedded#t=324s

    About me:

    First let me begin with the most significant question these days. I believe Kobe is greater than Jordan as an icon and a master of the game.
    With that said I have been witnessing this bizarre case study called the LA Lakers play out beginning the day Shaq was deported to Miami. Growing up in a Shaq and Kobe California, Shaq’s departure was the greatest shift in what it meant to be a kid who played basketball and followed the Lakers. Needless to say the drama of what has unfolded since is a part of how I have come to interpret political science, psychology and of course, basketball. I transitioned from sports sections of the LA Times to the blog posts at FB&G in 2005. On a daily basis I read Kurt Helin (until he went to found my second favorite site) while sifting through the insightful comments of Darius, kwame a. j.d., Aaron, Chris J, lil’ pau. I have always been amazed by my basketball community’s knowledge of the game inside and out. I can say that the group has always connected to the deepest part of my heart – my passion for basketball and social dynamics. At what may be the end of an incredible run – thank you immensely for helping me along. I hope you view my post as the type of contribution we appreciate at FB&G.

  7. ^^ wow, cliffs?

  8. cliff notes: it’s very difficult to go to the Finals 4 years in a row

  9. I took everything Samy said seriously until he said he thought Kobe is greater than Jordan. After that I just threw out everything he said, youire fucked in the head!

  10. Kobe is not greater than Jordan as an icon nor as a master of the game. Just one naive sentence destroyed your credibility of understanding the game of basketball. Anyone can try to argue Kobe is better than Jordan but its an argument lost well before it began.

  11. Jordan is greater than Kobe as a player – see my choice of words.

  12. Really interesting post Samy…at some point I literally forgot I wasn’t reading a TBJ blog entry. I don’t think anybody was feeding Bynum the arguments though. I do think that by being around Phil Jackson his whole career, being an intellectual like he clearly is, he may pick up on the same tendencies and motivational means that Jackson is using, and he’s asserting himself as a greater leader both on and off the court.
    On the Jordan point…how are you defining “master of the game” then if not better player? He’s more a jack-of-all-trades than Jordan, but I wouldn’t call that a greater master of the game.Obviously I believe that Jordan is better (and it’s not close, as great as Kobe is), primarily because he’s better at every important basketball physical skill except shooting from long range (offset by his superior decision making, as he is a better scorer, not shooter) and his intangibles, including trust of teammates in important situations. Even if you define master of the game as the varied talents Kobe has, Jordan was again better at all of them except the one.

  13. Great comments there.

    @Kerby You make a fair point too.

  14. I think Kobes greatness as a master of the game will ultimatly be measured by his decision to give up the rock to Bynum, LO and Pau. When he’s done that then he’s exceeded the growth of Jordan who would have never deferred to the extent the Lakers current situation requires.

  15. Great stuff Samy. That’s the 2nd best article/comment I’ve read all month (Lee Jenkins on Bynum no.1). Have you considered becoming a sports writer?

    A friendly suggestion: next time you post something, leave out the Kobe/MJ part. It’s an argument people have very strong opinions on and you lose no matter which side you choose. Think of it as the abortion topic for politicians, or gay marriage. By choosing a side, you automatically lose the other 50%.

    Are you on twitter?

  16. Here is sami’s twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/mtvsammi

  17. @Vesper. Great point about the Kobe/MJ issue. Definitely won’t be doing that again. No I don’t have a twitter, but am glad you enjoyed the article.

  18. Samy – your passion for the game is evident and you present your arguments with conviction. I don’t personally agree with the notion of Bynum as anybody’s mouthpiece but then again, I write a blog titled after Medvendenko so you can take my opinions with a pound of something. Lastly, I much agree about the folks over at FB&G – good stuff, always.

    Re: Phil and his guarantee, he’s doing what he’s got to do and coaching to the end. I’m a Lakers fan and I’ll hope against hope but it’s pretty swampy road ahead. Here’s somethig else if I haven’t already gone over the limit. http://tinyurl.com/45xxm7k

  19. First of all, it really sucks that this lakers team would let Phil Jackson go out like this, a sweep and a 30pt lost. in my point of view, kobe and bynum were the only lakers that looked like they gave a shit, which is really sad.

    second, i agree with samy. i think that kobe is better than jordan. i grew up watching kobe and even though i didn’t see a lot of jordan, i know that what kobe deals with on the court is much harder than what jordan had to deal with. The team defenses today have improved so much more than in the jordan era. And we have so many more clutch defensive players that could shut down almost anybody in the league.

    I know both guys respect each other. Both guys play same styles, except jordan is more athletic and has a little more lebron in him. But everyone knows that Kobe is the closest thing to jordan we’ve seen so far.

  20. Its about work ethic my friends – that’s what I admire and that is what I am referring to with regard to my Kobe – MJ comment.

    Let’s sit back and enjoy these playoffs, it looks to be a great finale to a tumultuous season.

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