On Thursday, Phil Jackson provided some trenchant if benign analysis that mirrored the sort of comments Basketball Hall of Famers down (or sometimes up) to message board denizens have been spouting for years. Derrick Rose can't carry the Chicago Bulls to a championship by himself, Phil sez. Shock horror.
Because Jackson was the coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 to 1998, there might be a bit of backlash from it. Even if his comments were about as innocuous (and spot on, if we're honest) as comments come.
Here's the details, as transcribed by ESPN Chicago, from Jackson's turn on ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy Show":
"I think they overachieved last year as far as record and how they got to the spots they got to in the playoffs. They still have to have some steady shooters from the outside to compliment the penetration they have, and then [Carlos Boozer] has to have that post-up game that he was brought there to give them.
"They just can't be one-dimensional in that regard. They have to have those complementary pieces to assist Rose in his game."
Jackson went on to call Rose "unstoppable" and holy cow can you already hear the cable shows lining up to break down Jackson's apparent shot at his former team? We can't even finish documenting Phil's kind words about the team he worked for from 1987 to 1998 (two years as an assistant) without wondering just how far other chat show hosts will take this.
Take it from this Bulls fan -- Chicago overachieved last year. They played to the peak of their abilities, and then some. That isn't a shot. It's a compliment. It's something to be proud of. Take it from this Bulls fan -- I've never been prouder of a Bulls team in my lifetime, and my nose was an inch away from the TV during each of those Bulls championships.
And what now? Well, you develop Boozer and Rose's screen-and-roll aptitude. Rose is unstoppable, and Boozer can be a louse, but Boozer can really dominate in a pick-and-roll attack and Rose is lacking in that realm. Also, the team needs shooters, especially at the wing positions. Also, the league's best defensive team "just can't be one-dimensional in that regard," to quote Jackson. Also, the Bulls have a lot of work to do, despite finishing with the NBA's best regular season record in 2010-11.
There are a whole of "also"-caveats for a team looking to take the next step from a conference champion contender into an NBA champion. As someone who was on the bench when the Bulls lost in the 1989 and 1990 conference finals, Phil should know.
Also, if Phil's turn as a German saloon spokesman doesn't work out, he definitely has a future career in moderate basketball analysis that people can get needlessly worked over about.