June 14, 2009
Phil Jackson thinks his Lakers are "prepared," both "emotionally and mentally for this game."
Not the biggest news, I submit, but I should point out that the fact that Jackson is able to see a distinction between "emotionally" and "mentally" should be enough to get most of us to dust off those "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" copies that we haven't cracked since college.
Stan Van Gundy also thinks his team is "prepared," and while he doesn't have an intangible check list to work through, he does think his Magic are in "a good frame of mind."
With either team's season possibly at an end, both coaches were prompted on a series of questions that usually had little to do with Sunday night's Game 5. Jackson was asked about longtime coaching cohort Tex Winter, architect of his team's offense, who has been away from the team for the better part of 2009 while dealing with health problems.
Jackson pointed out Winter's role in encouraging his squad to play a team game, not quite calling Tex a bad cop to Jackson's benevolent police officer, but discussing Winter's role in pointing out exactly how long it was between certain types of team play.
"He would bring up the fact that the ball wasn't moving or the team isn't playing together or there's stagnation out there on the floor. More than anything else, he kept a running score on the sidelines, which is now done by [assistant coach] Brian Shaw, whose cryptic handwriting is poor quality, but we can still get our way through it."
The Lakers coach talked about Orlando's feasibility as a recurring Finals participant (the team, he said, "is very capable of coming back"), and chased away any thoughts about potential butterflies heading into a close-out game.
"We know that this is going to be a difficult game. My experience, probably half the games we've had a chance to do it, we haven't succeeded as a coaching staff over the years, so we know how difficult a chore it is."
The Lakers, he said, didn't participate in shootarounds over the last couple of days due to the team's distance (a good half-hour, according to Jackson) from Amway Arena, and that his team reserved a space in its hotels to watch videos and discuss the game at hand.
As to Jackson's $25,000 fine, earned while complaining to the referees on an ABC interview between the first and second quarters on Thursday.
"Do you worry if this series goes on, you might go broke from fines?
It's a possibility. I think that those inner quarter discussions are quite unusual, seeing that they're an opportunity for a coach to I've some candor to the game. So I'll have to watch my candor.
Was Doris [Burke, ABC reporter] the one who prompted that? Did she get under your skin?
No, I think there were some referees out there on the floor that prompted it more than others."
Van Gundy went over his typical fare. He chased away any thoughts about how this could likely be a 3-1 series in Orlando's favor, reminding us that "you are what your record says you are," while adding that there is "no frustration" at the way things have turned out for his Magic.
He doesn't think his team has played poorly throughout this series, despite losing three of four, but did point out that he went against his typical routine by ordering a walkthrough on Friday, the day after what could have been a crushing Game 4.
"I wanted to see them. I wanted to look in their eyes. I wanted to see. But I pretty much saw what I expected. They were ready to go."
Van Gundy went on to point out that "players bounce back quicker than coaches do. And that's a necessity. They've got to be able to bounce back to play in this league and in this competitive situation and in this series, and I think our players have done that well throughout the [team]."
We'll find out in a couple of hours if a "bounce back" is enough to produce a "must win."