June 29, 2010
Doc Rivers' great contribution to the American sporting lexicon, before introducing most of us to the glory of Ubuntu, was his "deodorant" quote. Something that went along the lines of, "winning is a great deodorant, because it covers up all the stink."
Or something possibly close to that, because all my Internet searches led me to this quote: "Winning is like deodorant — it comes up and a lot of things don't stink." And I guess that works.
Or not, as it appears Rivers is a little off these days. Because in Phil Jackson's case, with the people that pay Phil Jackson the sort of money he needs to buy enough deodorant to sweat through a hundred games a year? Winning appears to be the great, "that pompous jerk, I can do this without him!"
Why else would Laker owner Dr. Jerry Buss still be dragging out handing Phil a contract extension, after he's given Los Angeles back-to-back titles, again? And why else would Jerry Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf have balked at every penny they sent Phil's way toward the tail end of his time in Chicago, only to slightly relent and then spend an entire season reminding us that Phil was the highest paid "coach-only" (coach/general managers Rick Pitino and John Calipari were paid more) in the NBA?
Roland Lazenby, who has covered both of these instances expertly, had the same thoughts in a post Tuesday on his Laker Noise blog:
To complain about money now that Jackson has delivered two championship teams is unheard of. Win titles and take a pay cut? That's a low blow, Dr. Jerry. And it's not just me saying that. It's your remarkable team captain, Derek Fisher(notes).
"It's sad to me," Fisher told Ramona Shelbourne recently, "when you think about what he's accomplished in his career, that he still always has to deal with these type of scenarios where there's a question of whether or not he's the best person for the job, or he's not really coaching because of the players that he's had. He's just a remarkable human being in terms of his approach to managing and coaching the team.
"I think not even just the Lakers, but the NBA as a whole, would lose a big part of what this game has been about the last 20 years if he's not back. If he's not back, it changes the whole landscape."
It really does change everything. Losing Phil Jackson is not like trading one pocket passer for another, or one scoring point guard for another. There's no other coach in the NBA that in any way closely approximates Phil Jackson, and Jackson's guidance and actual X's and O's offerings are a huge part of what makes this team great. Losing Jackson would result in the change of Los Angeles' entire offensive and defensive schemes.
There are many reasons why this would be a bad, bad thing for Los Angeles, but Silver Screen and Roll's Dexter Fishmore summed up one of the more hilariously bad reasons why this would be a bad, bad thing by asking his readers if anyone "would be in the mood for another year of Ron Artest(notes) trying to figure out where he's supposed to be on the floor?"
On top of that, while the Lakers and Phil might be as much as six million away from each other in hoped-for terms (though Jackson's comments during the finals seemed to dissuade us from that thinking), and while that would represent either a halving of what Phil made last year or a doubling-up of what the Lakers want to pay him, let's think about that figure for a second.
That's six million dollars. That's a ton of money, but in this league that can be no money at all. That's what Adam Morrison(notes) made last year. That's less than half of what you've been playing Andrew Bynum(notes) over the last couple of years to give you half a healthy year. That's two first-round rookies and a minimum pick up. That's, for the only coach that could handle this mess, enough money to pay to bring Phil Jackson back. If you have any sense at all.
Especially when he's given you 35 home playoff games over the last three years. Thirty-five. Jason Caffey. Thirty-five. We know how much those make you, Dr. Jerry.