Phil Jackson

You probably haven’t thought much about Scot Pollard since he advised kids to do drugs four years ago. After that statement, you might be inclined to not take anything he says too seriously — like when he parrots the claim of Phil Jackson haters everywhere that Jackson is overrated because he won all 11 of his championships with future Hall of Famers on his teams.

Pollard made this claim on KHTK Radio in Sacramento yesterday, and while he’s not the first person to share this opinion — and he certainly won’t be the last — my problem isn’t with the statement itself but that it’s stale and pointless. Yes, having all-time great players on your team certainly helps a coach win championships. But it doesn’t guarantee the kind of success Jackson achieved. You’re entitled to say that other coaches could have won as many championships with that kind of talent, and I’ll respond that you have no proof to back that up. People who make that claim are speaking in pure theoreticals, and are therefore talking directly out of their asses.

If I had to assign a particular fallacy to Pollard’s argument, it would be “confusing cause and effect”. This fallacy is defined by Dr. Michael C. Labossiere — author of Fallacy Tutorial Pro 3.0 – as having the following general form:

  1. A and B regularly occur together.
  2. Therefore A is the cause of B.

Phil Jackson’s championship teams all had Hall of Fame quality players on them, but it can’t be proven that was the only significant reason they won all those championships. Could Jackson have coached the Toronto Raptors (you pick the season) to a championship? Of course not. But guess what? Neither could any other coach. Therefore, it’s a stupid argument, and Scot Pollard is stupid (or on drugs, possibly both) if he honestly believes otherwise.

(Yes, I’m aware I just committed an ad hominem. Let’s move on.)

I’m neither a fan nor a hater of Phil Jackson, but I acknowledge that he deserves to be regarded as the greatest coach in NBA history because he’s fifth all-time in regular season wins, first all-time in playoff wins and first all-time in championships. That’s a résumé that no other coach can match.

Regardless of how you consider Phil Jackson’s coaching accomplishments, I think we can all agree that his way with words and his deftness with which he took potshots at his opponents will be missed. I don’t expect that Phil will bother to respond to these statements, but if he was asked, I imagine the conversation would go something like this.

Reporter: How do you respond to Scot Pollard’s claim that you’re overrated because you had Hall of Fame players to work with?

Phil: Who?

Comments (14)

  1. Agree completely. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaq.

    A retarded chimp could have won an NBA title with them…. oh hey Dennis Rodman did.

    Besides NBA Coaches do nothing as far as “coaching”.

  2. I lol’d. I don’t think there’s ever been a team that has won a Championship without having (Future) HOF Players.

  3. One could argue that it was Jackson’s ability to manage egos and focus headcases into a sophisticated offensive scheme that was his biggest accomplishment. I mean, yeah Shaq, Kobe, and Jordan were all unbelievably talented players but he still managed to get them to buy into roles on a team. You never saw Phil Jackson act like Mike Brown with Lebron, and that’s why he’s been so successful. An NBA head coach is supposed to harness talent and use it in the most effective way possible, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t done a tremendous job with that.

  4. Plenty of great players out there never won titles. Heck, plenty of great teams never won titles. Great coaching is just one piece of a successful franchise. You can have a great coach, but if the talent level isn’t there then in the end you won’t reach your ultimate goals. You can have great players but never see them reach the level of success you expect as a team, because of poor coaching.

    This kind of statement from Pollard is the typical counter-mainstream opinion that people will push just to get noticed. Boring, and kind of insulting to anybody that watches basketball.

  5. Like John said, talent wins championships.

    Every single team that’s won a title in the last 30 years with the only exception really being the Pistons team coached by another great in Larry Brown, has had at least 1 sure fire hall of fame player + at least 1 other (usually 2) perennial all-star if not hof’er.

    You don’t win titles with no talent. The fact there’s only one other head coach in NBA history with at least HALF as many titles (Red with 9, then Riley at 5) as Phil should have put this stupid ‘argument’ to rest eons ago.

  6. how many championships did michael jordan win without phil jackson again? erm, yeah. and how many championships did wilt chamberlain win in his superawesome then-GOAT-days?
    basketball is DEFINETLY a coaches’ sport – maybe not compared to football, but compared to soccer for sure. anything that has timeouts is automatically a coaches’ sport. therefore, anyone who wins 11 titles as a coach is probably pretty good at his job.

  7. this is just a shot in the dark..but didnt red havesome guy named Bill Russell?

  8. I think this is the most stupid argument going around. The fact that these amazing players who know the game so well always give him so much credit should carry some weight. Its the way he gets these players to buy into a team concept and triangle offense, instead of just playing like the Heat do at the moment, that shows how good he is and how much respect they have for him.

    I would also like to pose the question, how many teams win that dont have HoF’s or future ones… I think it wouldn’t be many.

  9. Not saying anything about his coaching, but when you’ve had three guys, in their prime, who could be considered the “best ever”? That’s more than just Hall of Fame players.

  10. Ridiculous statement. Phil could have been replaced by a retarded, gay chimp.

    However, MJ, Kobe and Shaq are like someone pointed out 3 of the best players ever. Not just some random Hall of Famers.

  11. Yeah, Jordan Kobe and Shaq are all top-10 all-time material.
    And Pippen is top-50…
    We’re not talking about “discount” HOF players here. Those are not Chris Mullin or Sam Jones.

    Still, P Jax is a great coach when his players buy into his system (like Jordan’s Bulls). The problem is: Kobe never really bought into it, he always prefered to play iso-ball (even Jackson said so). So much for the fantastic motivator he’s supposed to be.

    And last but not least:
    1. A and B regularly occur together.
    2. Therefore A is the cause of B.

    so… Jackson being a coach of a team (A) concurs with this team winning a championship (B), the fallacy would be that Jackson is the cause for his teams to win championships.

    Try to not use arguments that are bound to come back to bite you in the ass

  12. btw, you can’t really mesure a coach’s worth by his number of wins or championships, same way you can’t judge a player by these.

    There are lots of other factors (not only the players you get, but also the management, luck, longevity, …). From that I’d argue that Pop is really close to Jackson in terms of being the best coach. He didn’t win as much, but he was less blessed with great players.

    I can’t imagine the then-Bulls win less than 3 chips with Pop as a coach, and I can only imagine he would have been better at settling disputes (Kobe-Shaq) and such (Bynum’s “trust issues”).

    It’s really too hard to evaluate a coach’s worth to crown anyone “best coach ever”.

  13. scot polard is overrated for having a job in the nba for 11 years despite having no talent at all and always producing sh*tty numbers.

  14. @ Breyzh: Using a fallacy doesn’t make the conclusion wrong; it just means the supposed “facts/evidence” don’t actually support the conclusion. In this case, it only means you can’t look at the great players and say of course they would’ve won a championship with any coach – and vice versa. You can’t say Phil Jackson can win with any roster. The only conclusion here is none can be made with great certainty.

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