To say that Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers go about coaching in different ways would be like saying something that is totally and completely obvious. Jackson is often aloof, preferring to reign from his coaching throne and manipulate games with mind control. Rivers is more immediate, getting all up in his players' faces and yelling about the various injustices his team has suffered, while somehow remaining cool. Both styles are effective as both have won NBA Coach of the Year awards and have seen their respective teams be crowned champion of the NBA.
Furthermore, in the last three seasons, the teams they coach have won almost an identical number of games — 179 for the Lakers, 178 for the Celtics. You could say that each of these guys can coast on the talent of their teams, but that's not really true in either case. At this point in their careers, the difference between the two is pretty small.
Unless you're Doc Rivers. He's sure he knows the answer, and he let the Boston Globe's Frank Dell'Apa in on his dirty little secret.
"You compare me to Phil, we're in trouble,'' Rivers said. "He's got 10 rings, I've got one. I think, obviously, you go by his record, he's the best coach ever in the game. I told our players you've got to be better than me with Phil, for sure.''
Doc Rivers shouldn't be so hard on himself. Just because Jackson has 10 times as many rings as he does doesn't mean Phil's 10 times better. After all, Rivers won the coaching battle during the 2008 finals. Sure, Phil Jackson handing out books to his players is a cool tradition, but Doc's got "ubuntu," which is equally nerdy and effective.
"I'm going to put him right up there. He's definitely taken my career to the next level. You've got to put him in there with the top-five coaches. I'll put Doc right up there with them.''
That's nice. Aside from a couple of terrible rebuilding years — if you can call what the Celtics did to get better rebuilding — Rivers has been a solid coach. He's not going to challenge Phil Jackson's record for career titles any time soon, but he's more than adequate. And obviously, his players love him, which is the most important thing. All we need now is for the finals to actually start so we can truly determine who's the better coach. Hurry up, Thursday!