April 08, 2011
When Phil Jackson tells you that he doesn't like the way the current NBA game flows, he's not just giving you the typical Boomer-take on how things used to be. This man, and this isn't a shot, had a seat on the bench and was a part of two of the more gorgeous offenses in NBA history -- Red Holzman's two-time champions in 1970 and 1973, and the Chicago Bulls' triangle-based winners from the 1990s.
But Jackson isn't just upset at the stilted, coach-influenced game that we see on the court every night. He's upset with the lighting, and the timeouts. You heard me.
Jackson wants pro basketball to be "played like soccer," and the impetus behind this came from his time spent coaching in Puerto Rico in the early 1980s. Teams were only allowed two timeouts per half, and the back and forth was fast and furious. Not too fast and furious. Not the fast and furious. Fast and furious. Jackson wants that back.
He said as much while addressing the reporters following the Lakers today, as transcribed by the Orange County Register's Kevin Ding. It almost sounds as if Jackson is dreading his final postseason as Lakers coach:
He said the increasing occasions to use replay review to help the referees isn't necessarily moving things in the right direction. The game gets disrupted, and in that regard Jackson isn't even looking forward to his final NBA postseason.
"You know the playoffs are going to be really tough," he said. "They're going to review everything."
He's not wrong. The NBA has a real problem with the amount of time the refs take to review things. These plays need to be reviewed, and they need to be called correctly, but too often this season referees have taken far, far too long to come to a consensus on a call that should take about 20 seconds to review. The referees need to trust themselves to get it right quickly, because they will, and the league needs to trust the refs, which it never has.
And when the refs miss a call to begin with? Jackson knows why. It's the lights -- bright to start with, but sent into overdrive with klieg setups when the national TV crews come into arenas and set up additional lighting.
Jackson also said as he reviews game footage in frame-by-frame replay he comes across countless occasions where referees miss calls right in the lane because of the strobe lights set up to aid photographers — temporarily blinding referees.
"They put their own referees in jeopardy," Jackson said of NBA powers. He went on to say: "No one will admit it. How stupid are we?"
It's pretty stupid, Phil.
It bears pointing out that the league, I'm sorry, has never been better. The sheer amount of talent in this game is staggering, no less than half of this league's playoff bracket will have a legitimate shot at making the finals in June, and the offensive efficiency in this league has risen to meet the advances made by coaches and players over the last 25 years on the defensive end. This league is a great watch.
But that doesn't mean we can't speed it up a bit, right?