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LosingNow

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Truly the greatest..
« on: June 16, 2009, 05:16:50 AM »

The greatest coach to coach a professional sports team - Phil Jackson. 
:notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy:

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Jackson leaves Auerbach in the past
By Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports
Jun 15, 4:14 am EDT
 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Red Auerbach loathed Phil Jackson. He never hid it. Every word out of the Boston Celtics patriarch about the Los Angeles Lakers coach dripped with dismissive sarcasm, downright disdain. Deep down, Auerbach believed his record of nine NBA coaching championships was invincible. Times had changed, and dynasties were at the mercy of free agency and expansion. Even the great coaches no longer stood the test of time and turmoil.

Yet, Jackson had good fortune, good timing and a good time chasing an unimpressed Auerbach. “I expect a cigar,” Jackson suggested on the cusp of his ninth NBA championship seven years ago in the Jersey swamps.

“I’m going to send him a congratulatory wire,” Auerbach grumbled over the phone later that day.

Close, but no cigar.

Red Auerbach could barely utter a gracious word on Jackson, who still speaks reverently of his elder. Those days are over now, because the Lakers’ 99-86 Game 5 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday changed the course of history.

Roll over Red. Phil Jackson is the greatest coach ever. He passed Auerbach with his 10th NBA title Sunday night and he will go down as the greatest coach in NBA history. For everyone who says they would’ve won with Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal(notes) and Kobe Bryant(notes), understand this: There are few coaches alive who could’ve commanded the respect of those players for all those years, all those championships. Maybe just one, just Jackson.


As much as anyone, he understands that the genius of coaching isn’t in the X’s and O’s but the humanity of it all. “He coaches unity and chemistry and togetherness,” Bryant said. He coaches the human condition. All those coaches who say, well, give me Kobe Bryant, just understand: He would’ve eaten most of them alive.

There’s little left to argue, little left to debate. These times are far more demanding on a coach, far more difficult to dominate. The old guard of the NBA hold Auerbach and that Celtics dynasty sacred, but sport evolves and so did the coaching profession. All these years later, Jackson has been gracious in passing Auerbach, respectful of his legacy, the way that that old curmudgeon Auerbach never bothered with him.

“I think Red could’ve won two or three more championships, but I think to keep [Bill Russell] involved, he turned the team over to Bill,” Jackson said.

Auerbach knew that the Celtics needed another voice in 1966 and ultimately believed that the only coach who could motivate Russell was Russell himself. Boston won two titles – the 10th and 11th of the center’s career – with him as a player-coach. Bryant doesn’t run the Lakers, but Jackson deftly turned over a bigger burden to Bryant and his teammates this season. To watch those huddles, to listen in the locker room, it’s easy to see that Bryant replaced Jackson as the dominant voice.

“I’ve always felt as a coach you have to push your team, and I told them they have to push themselves,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t at the stage of my life where I could get out and do the things that I had done 10 or 15 years ago to push a team. And they pushed themselves.”

After winning nine titles in nine trips to the NBA Finals, Jackson lost with the Lakers in 2004 and 2008. He had walked away with the Kobe-Shaq breakup in 2004, and returned at the behest of his girlfriend, Jeannie Buss, in 2005, for the reclamation project with which Auerbach believed that Jackson never validated himself.

Back in ’02, Auerbach still held this over Jackson. Well, this changed when Jackson returned to a Shaq-less Lakers in 2005 and found himself a 17-year-old high school center, Andrew Bynum(notes), who the owner’s son, Jim, insisted that the Lakers draft. Jackson talked an enraged Bryant out of forcing a trade two summers ago, developed Bynum, incorporated Pau Gasol(notes), built a sturdy bench and returned to the NBA Finals in ’08 and ’09.

“He’s never tried building a team and teaching the fundamentals,” Auerbach told me seven years ago. “When he’s gone in there, they’ve been ready-made for him. It’s just a matter of putting his system in there. They don’t worry about developing players if they’re not good enough. They just go get someone else.”



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NBA Finals coaching titles
No. Teams Coach Year of championship
10 Chi. Bulls/
L.A. Lakers Phil Jackson 91, ’92, ’93, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’09
9 Boston Celtics Red Auerbach 57, ’59, ’60, ’61, ’62, ’63, ’64, ’65, ’66
5 L.A. Lakers,
Miami Heat Pat Riley 82, ’85, ’87, ’88, ’06
5 Minneapolis Lakers John Kundla 49, ’50, ’52, ’53, ’54
4 San Antonio Spurs  Gregg Popovich 99, ’03, ’05, ’07

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Mitch Kupchak has done inspired work as the Lakers GM, but Jackson has played his part restoring this roster. Most of all, he coached Bryant. Had someone else been in his seat, you wonder: Would they have had the guts, the credibility, to do anything but suck up to him? Jackson has never been afraid of his stars – never Michael Jordan, never Shaq, never Bryant. Jackson didn’t live in fear of a coup, or players leaving as free agents.

His icons respected him for it, and ultimately, it elevated their talent.

It made them champions.

Jackson, 64, never did address his future on Sunday night, and it’s easy to think that with his hip problems, with Red’s record, why would he return to this grind again? Well, these Lakers have a chance to win multiple championships and that’s why the Buss family will pay Jackson as much as $12 million a year. In these economic times, plenty of millionaires have lost millions in the market. Everyone is trying to make money back these days, and don’t underestimate that motivation for Jackson.

If Jackson left, it is hard to believe that the Lakers would turn a defending champion over to untested assistants Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw.

Bryant will lobby Jackson hard to stay here. Bryant is impressed by Portland’s Nate McMillan and Jeff Van Gundy, but Kupchak could re-visit his 2004 courtship of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. When he was offered a $40 million package, the Lakers had Bryant and little else. Now, Krzyzewski has a relationship with Bryant and the Lakers roster is far more appealing. Duke is no longer a perennial Sweet 16 – never mind Final Four program – and circumstances could’ve changed enough for Krzyzewski to re-examine a lifelong commitment to the college game.

Nevertheless, Jackson dutifully noticed that Auerbach left behind a couple coaching championships when he left Russell in ’66 to become just the GM. Jackson won’t move upstairs with Kupchak but back to his ranch in Montana. The Lakers still haven’t seen the best of Bynum, and Pau Gasol has moved into his prime and maybe there’s a way that they can re-sign Lamar Odom(notes) and Trevor Ariza(notes). Bryant, the Finals MVP, is still one of the planet’s peerless talents. The winning can go on and on.

No one is sure if Auerbach ever did send that congratulatory wire seven years ago, but he never did send a cigar. “It’ll stunt his growth,” Auerbach sniffed.

Seven years have passed since Auerbach was so dismissive of Jackson tying him at nine, and so, Sunday night in the Lakers locker room, Bryant pulled Jackson into the team’s celebratory circle. The coach took his glasses off, thrust back his head and let Bryant douse him with a bottle of bubbly.

“It’s been a long time since he had a champagne bath,” Bryant said.

Too long for the two of them, and now Jackson passes Auerbach for a 10th NBA title and the Lakers coach, a devoted student of history, must make his own choice now: leave titles on the table like Auerbach and walk away, or run up the record for history’s sake?

Whatever his choice, history is forever on Jackson’s side. The debate’s done. Phil Jackson is the greatest coach in NBA history, and the Celtics patriarch’s no longer around to make his own case. Somewhere, Auerbach must be rolling over. Red loved that record, and he sure loathed this coach.

Adrian Wojnarowski is the NBA columnist for Yahoo! Sports.
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LosingNow

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Re: Truly the greatest..
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2009, 05:19:56 AM »

X marks the spot of greatest NBA coach

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By Chris Broussard
ESPN The Magazine

 
Lakers coach Phil Jackson is feted for the tenth time as leader of an NBA champion.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For one fleeting moment, especially when his radical ways flashed through my mind, I thought Phil Jackson was releasing his inner militant.


As Lakers players celebrated on the makeshift stage in Amway Arena with gray "World Champion" baseball caps on, Jackson sported a bright yellow hat with a bold, black "X" on the front.


"Malcolm X?" I thought, recalling the faddish caps of the early 1990s, before quickly realizing that the X was for Jackson's record-breaking 10th NBA title.

While Jackson and the slain black leader of the 1960s have little in common, there is this one similarity: they are/were one of a kind.

Jackson's 10th championship, claimed Sunday night at the conclusion of a 4-1 victory over the Orlando Magic, is not the only thing that separates him from every other coach in NBA history.

Honestly, has the NBA -- and for that matter, the NFL or MLB -- ever seen a coach like Jackson?

A coach who has so blatantly incorporated his Zen Buddhist philosophies into his routine, who brought the rituals of the Lakota Sioux (placing tribal fetishes on shelves) into the locker room, who led his players in group meditation?

Those aren't exactly the first three chapters of Red Auerbach's "Basketball for the Player, the Fan and the Coach." But darn it, if they don't work.

Jackson, for all his idiosyncrasies, is the greatest coach in NBA history. And by "greatest," I don't mean "most accomplished," as if giving him the title simply because he's got the most rings.

No, I mean, Phil Jackson is the league's best coach ever.

Sure, nine of his championships came with two of the league's all-time greatest duos -- Jordan and Pippen winning six, Shaq and Kobe winning three. But how many of Auerbach's nine titles came without Bill Russell and either Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, John Havlicek or a host of other Hall of Famers?

None.

In fact, two years after Auerbach retired, Russell led the Celtics to the first of back-to-back championships as a player-coach. Talk about stealing somebody's thunder!

How many rings did Pat Riley win without Magic and Kareem or Shaq and Dwyane Wade?

None.

"Maybe you'll hear the comment, 'He had great players,'" Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said, repeating the oft-heard criticism of those who deny Jackson the No. 1 spot. "First of all, I don't know of a team that's ever won it once that doesn't have great players.

"Yeah, he's had great players, but the guy wins all the time. If you have Kobe and those guys and you're losing, OK, maybe they can talk about it. But that guy is winning all the time. You can't give him short shrift. Damn, you look at the guy's record, it's undeniable."

It's not just the championship years either. Think about what Jackson did with the 1993-94 Bulls, the first post-Jordan team. With Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc and an injury-plagued roster that started somebody named Pete Myers, he won 55 games. That's two fewer than he won the year before with Jordan. You lose the greatest player of all-time and you're only two games worse?

And remember where the Lakers were before Jackson's return in 2005. With the highly-esteemed Rudy Tomjanovich at the helm (then later, Frank Hamblen after Tomjanovich stepped down), L.A. won 34 games. The following year, with Jackson back, the same roster -- minus Caron Butler -- won 45 games and pushed the second-seeded Phoenix Suns to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

But it's more than even the great seasons. It's the way he got perhaps the two greatest one-on-one players in basketball history, Jordan and Bryant, to buy into the equal-opportunity triangle offense, the way he's earned their utmost respect (to the point that neither of them wanted/wants to play for anyone else).

It's the way he got the wild and rebellious exhibitionist Dennis Rodman to conform (somewhat). The same Rodman who was threatening to commit suicide in Detroit, and sitting on the bench without shoes in San Antonio, was, if not an angel, then at least a well-behaved champion in Chicago under Jackson.

"It's his ability to bring people together," Bryant said when asked what makes Jackson such a great coach. "That's the biggest thing that he does so well -- he continues to coach the group, continues to coach unity and chemistry and togetherness. Because when you're together, you can withstand adversity. If you're not, you can easily break apart and become a team of individuals. That's his biggest characteristic and what he does so well."

Being a great NBA coach is not about X's and O's, because let's be honest, every NBA coach knows X's and O's. Do you really think Mike Dunleavy or Mo Cheeks don't know how to run various offenses or teach their players how to defend the pick-and-roll?

Being a great NBA coach is about managing egos, earning your players' respect, developing team chemistry, making (in-game and off-day) adjustments, and emphasizing the right things. And no one's ever done all that better than Jackson.

"Some coaches teach and others manage," said Kareem, who's helped Jackson develop Andrew Bynum. "I see Phil as more of a manager."

Manager, teacher, coach, whatever. Bottom line, he's the greatest there's ever been.


Chris Broussard is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine.

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ramshorns

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Re: Truly the greatest..
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2009, 08:42:06 PM »

No I strongly disagree.

He is not the greatest.

I wish I had the time to explain.

He won his first six championships despite him.  He did nothing stood and watched Jordan do his thing.

Then in the two years MJ between championships was gone he just did a decent job.

I would take Larry Brown over him and Pat Riley too and Chuck Daly on top of my head as better NBA coaches than him.

Sure 10 rings will get him such claims but after watching NBA so closely especially during the Jordan days I know in my heart what this guy is about.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2009, 04:04:33 PM by ramshorns »
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kban1

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Re: Truly the greatest..
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2009, 04:57:58 PM »

Ermmm

How about Lombardi ?

or Landry ?

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CLR James

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Re: Truly the greatest..
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2009, 10:02:53 PM »

On a different note, can any of you guys remember the name of the famed Australian swimming coach who produced Olympic champions galore, but himself did not know how to swim?
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ramshorns

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Re: Truly the greatest..
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2009, 03:59:57 AM »

Scottie Bowman of the NHL is as good as it gets.

Jackson is just not in the same class.   
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dextrous

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Re: Truly the greatest..
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2009, 05:26:57 AM »

And what of Sandeep Patil, the man who took Kenya to the semi-finals?
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LosingNow

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Re: Truly the greatest..
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2009, 10:52:10 PM »

Ermmm

How about Lombardi ?

or Landry ?


Lombardi is definitely one of the greatest (along with Landry, Walsh, Parcells in NFL).. I think it is a close call between Lombardi and Jackson. Difficult to compare across sports.. but IMO, Jackson beats him because he has achieved it multiple times with different teams.
I did not see Lombardi in action - but the more I see him on tape and read about him and his work.. I can see why he was an icon and achieved what he could. Some of his philosophies and aphorisms are applied all the time even in the business/real world by leaders. ("Winning isnt everything, it is the only thing", "It is not whether you get knocked down, it is whether you get up").
Our strategy professor at B-school used to cite the example of the Green Bay Packers under Lombardi as an example of when strategic thinking is not needed because of overwhelming tactical superiority. The Packers were big and strong.. and tactically superior vs other teams. Everyone knew that they would run the ball and come at you.. and because of their overwhelming tactical superiority the opponents could do nothing.

Jackson's ability to CONSISTENTLY get the juice out of "spoilt" superstars ..in an era of multi-million $ earning brats - is a uniquely differentiating trait in modern-day sport that really separates the winners from the losers. He is also a decent coach, very game aware and brilliant strategeist with an implementation-oriented mindset. IMO, in the modern era, teams need, relatively speaking, "people managers" as coaches as opposed to teachers. Jackson fits that role...and results are there for all of us to see.
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dextrous

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Re: Truly the greatest..
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2009, 11:09:54 PM »

Some of his philosophies and aphorisms are applied all the time even in the business/real world by leaders. ("Winning isnt everything, it is the only thing",

--really, that's a philosophy?! and what's the real life application for that--monpoly at all costs?!
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