NBA Playoffs: Jackson’s had his Phil
Kobe Bryant couldn’t put it into words. No problem, just put it into numbers.
Phil Jackson’s .704 winning percentage and 11 titles are the most in NBA history. However, it’s Jackson’s most recent stat — 1, as in one playoff sweep defeat — that will likely be the last mark of his coaching career and the final wimper from the Los Angeles Lakers’ dynasty.
Jackson also missed out on the chance for a fourth three-peat, as he and the two-time defending champion Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks with a 122-86 loss yesterday in the Western Conference semifinals. The 65-year-old coach said last summer this would be his final season but did not make a final decision last night, only talking like a man who had coached his final game.
It could also be the final game in a Lakers uniform for everyone but Kobe Bryant. Los Angeles’ bigs, thought to be a huge strength against Dallas, turned out to be its biggest weakness.
Andrew Bynum cited “trust issues” and called out his teammates before delivering a cheap shot in Game 4 that got him ejected, while Pau Gasol saw his field goal percentage dip to 42.2 from 52.9 in the regular season. Those two, along with Ron Artest, who was suspended for Game 3, and Lamar Odom, who was part of a Lakers’ bench that was outscored 85-37 by the Mavs’ reserves yesterday, are all clearly on the trading block.
L.A. needs to get younger and stronger, perhaps with Dwight Howard, so Kobe’s eventual exit won’t go as poorly as Phil’s.
We rank Phil Jackson’s greatest coaching jobs:
1 ’95-98: Michael Jordan’s second run is impossible to beat. The Bulls’ “bad year” was a 62-20 campaign in ’97-98.
2 ’99-02: The third three-peat featured Jackson’s biggest turnaround year. L.A. went just 56-26 in the ’00-01 regular season before winning a stunning 15 of 16 in the playoffs.
3 ’90-93: Chicago’s original three-peat sits third only because it was all about MJ and little else. Scottie Pippen? Horace Grant? B.J. Armstrong? Please.
4 ’08-11: L.A.’s run was impressive considering its marginal talent, but even Kobe wore down in its final stages.