February 22, 2008
Mention the phrase "40 before 20" to Phil Jackson, and you can almost sense his mind flashing back to greatness. The Los Angeles Lakers' coach believes that elite teams win 40 games before they lose 20, a mark achieved by the Lakers in all three of their championships earlier this decade and by the Chicago Bulls in all six of their championships with Jackson as coach in the 1990s according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Lakers are currently 37-17, and eight of their next nine games are against teams that wouldn't make the playoffs today — the Clippers (twice), Seattle, Miami, Portland (twice) and Sacramento (twice). It appears the Lakers will get 40 before 20, but Jackson flip-flops between complimenting the team and posting notes of caution until center Andrew Bynum returns.
"We'll see how that all fits together," he said recently. "Obviously, we still have a large order yet to come along with Andrew getting back and playing this year. . . . That will be a major adjustment for our team. For right now, it fits really well."