December 17, 2009
Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register has a fascinating column detailing the connection between Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, specifically regarding the design of Bryant's winning shot in Milwaukee on Wednesday night and its similarity to a certain game-winner Michael Jordan once hit in 1991:
Jackson started drawing the diagram on his board, designing a play from the backcourt, and Kobe Bryant(notes) was baffled. He interrupted with a furrowed brow and started to point toward the scoreboard to remind his longtime coach that only 5.4 seconds remained in overtime, and the Lakers were losing by one.
"Huh?" Bryant actually said in the huddle.
Bryant turned to appeal to co-star Pau Gasol(notes) to bring Jackson to his senses. Jackson stopped drawing and just gave Bryant a dead-eyed look that basically said: "Are you going to let me do what I do or what?"
Jackson resumed drawing in the backcourt, and with that, Bryant ceased being surprised.
"Then I got it," Bryant said later as he walked out of the visitors' locker room, his epic resume now bulging by one more shot. "I knew exactly what he was doing."
Jackson wanted to help Bryant by deterring Milwaukee from double-teaming him.
Bryant flashed back in the moment to the 1991 NBA Finals (yes, his basketball knowledge is that encyclopedic that he could cite the correct year): Jackson started a play in the backcourt — although 10 seconds remained in that case — and wound up getting Michael Jordan an elbow jumper over Vlade Divac's too-late help (Ed. note: The Jordan photo above is actually from a game in Feb. '91), forcing overtime at The Forum in Game 3 against the Lakers.
"Bryant flashed back in the moment to the 1991 NBA Finals ..."
If anyone else says this, they're lying. No matter how knowledgeable they are, no matter what they just did, it's a lie. I roll my eyes and go back to watching T-Mobile commercials.
Kobe says it? I nod my head and have no choice but to believe it. Seriously.
Click here to see video of both Michael and Kobe's Phil Jackson-designed winners.