The wisdom of Coach Phil Jackson was on full display at yesterday’s exit interview, where the legend (in the same sentence no less) stated both:
“I made up my mind”
“I have not made up my mind”
in regard to retirement.
Check the audio (video) after the cell phone ring at the 0:35 mark of his exit interview:
As YKI stated months ago, the Lakers do not possess the hunger, passion or drive to repeat as Champions this year. It’s not a case of being dramatic, it’s just factual. Second loss to Oklahoma City? Saw it coming. Loss prior to the Finals? Guaranteed.
In this Laker-flag-car-driving town of fake fans, Facebook messages stating I’m going to take a nap, when I wake up I hope the Lakers will have won! & blank stares upon mentions of the name Sedale Threatt and Terry Teagle, it is fitting that the denizens of the city are worked up for naught. The Lakers will lose to the Thunder/Jazz/Nuggets/Spurs/Blazers/Suns/take your pick and nobody will lose sleep, not even the Lakers. And therein lies the problem.
and Phil Jackson is ready to leave. Through it all, though, they really could win if. . .
a certain Black Mamba, Number 24, the Angeles Assassin was firing on all cylinders,
which he clearly is not. For all of his invincible brilliance throughout his career, Kobe’s ability to withstand pain & conquer obstacles has been beyond Jordanesque, playing through injuries, criminal charges, and unparalleled media access/coverage. The past few years have been year-round ballplaying for Mr. Bryant, from the Worlds to the Olympics to repeated NBA Finals.
It seems as this season is the first time that he’s willing to accept less than perfection. As unbreakable as he is in mind & spirit, it’s his body that is telling him to shut it down. Now by no means is Kobe trying – or even wanting – to lose, but it’s apparent that a premature conclusion to the 2009-2010 season would have long-term benefit. Now in his 13th year – meaning his body is 35 years old in Basketball Years – it’s simply been through too much in too short of time to recover properly.
In short, Kobe can not single-handedly will the Lakers through their litany of on-court issues and off-court lack of focus. Prepare for that, Laker fans, and take those darn flags down – they make us all look bad.
So despite the Lakers recent six-game winning streak, nobody is happy with the direction of the squad.
In fact, here is Phil Jackson’s assessment after their latest victory.
"It was awful," Jackson said. "It was an awful second half. There was no intensity. We didn’t play right… We just didn’t play with a full functioning group of guys. Kobe [Bryant] took one shot [in the second half]. Made his shot [and] that was it. So we weren’t going to come out there and play with the kind of intensity you have to play with."
Seems that their most consistent performer right now is beat writer Mike Bresnahan, who breaks down the Lakers’ chances at becoming the first repeat NBA title winner since 2002. The story address both his – and fans’ - largest concerns for what augurs to be a contentious playoff run (Blazers in round one? Eesh).
Furthermore, concerns abound amongst their guard play, the spotty Jordan Farmar vs. the non-shooter Shannon Brown vs. the aging Derek Fisher, and the fact that even a six-game winning streak is leaving them unmotivated and eerily reminiscent of last year’s squad that was taken to the wire by Houston.
Much of the concerns have to do with the frontcourt as much as the backcourt, with Gasol constantly irked, whether it be by Kobe’s reluctance to pass or the Spanish paparazzi trailing him throughout the South Bay.
The young and oft-injured Andrew Bynum is down yet again (for the third consecutive season), and who knows his mindset upon return.
In short, the Lakers are still the number one team in the Western Conference and still appear superior to any team in the conference, but the concerns are there; this is evident with their 8-9 record against the top four teams in the League. That said, this is LA-LA land, and since the Dominating days of Shaq, the Lakers have shown to be a team that can truly flip the switch – which is definitely what will need to be done this year.
It’s no secret that Lakers’ forward Ron Artest has been struggling recently. Are the struggles from post-concussion syndrome, or are they from something else?
Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson thinks its the latter.
Apparently, since signing with China-based Peak Shoes, Artest’s footing has been a tad bit. . .slow.
Here is a photo of the actual shoes; he generally wears the black ones, or so I am told:
Phil described the shoes as “concrete boots” and says that Ronnie Pippen Artest has been “clogging around a bit out there.” Interesting theory, but YallKiltIt thinks that Ron-Ron’s problem is still – wait for it – in his head.