Okay, given that Buss and Kupchak were compelled to pay a visit to PJ’s digs, they still needed to promulgate reasons why Jackson was not the right man for the job. But the reasons that were made public were all falsehoods, my sources tell me.
- Jackson reportedly demanded an outrageous salary – $18M annually, in some reports. The truth is that Jackson made no such demand. In fact, the only topic discussed at the meeting was the makeup of the Lakers’ roster. In none of Jackson’s discussions with management did he ever talk about monetary compensation. That was his agent’s job. And that’s why Todd Musberger caught a red-eye flight from Chicago to LA on Sunday night.
- There was never any mention of Jackson’s wanting a slice of the team’s ownership. Never.
- Nor did Jackson mention (much less insist) that he wanted to miss certain road games. Jackson was prepared to go and to be wherever the team was.
- Kupchak also claimed that the triangle offense was not suitable for the Lakers players. Nonsense. One of the characteristics of the triangle is its flexibility. When Karl Malone was a Laker, the geometry of the triangle was altered to suit The Mailman’s preference to play the high post. Kupchak, an ex-player, should have known better than to spout such foolish misinformation – if he was in fact the source of it.
- And is the teamwide lack of speed and short bench suitable for D’Antoni’s madcap offense? And what about D’Antoni’s bragging in an NBA-sponsored clinic last summer that he wants nothing to do with big men who are only effective in the pivot? Just wondering if Dwight Howard got that piece of news.
- The point was also made that Jackson’s last season with the Lakers ended in disaster. What was never mentioned was that Jackson wanted to retire after winning the championship in 2010. But Jerry Buss knew a lockout was on the horizon and didn’t want a new coach to have only a truncated season to try to establish a relationship with his players, so he asked Jackson to stay on one more year. In other words, Jackson did Dr. Buss an enormous favor by coaching a team that he knew didn’t have the chops to repeat.
- Why didn’t Phil immediately accept the position? Because he is reluctant to make spur-of-the-moment decisions on life-changing matters. He needed 24 hours to make certain that his instinct to return to the Lakers bench was the correct one.
- Why the call at midnight? Kupchak said it was done to spare Jackson the embarrassment of coming to the Lakers office on Monday morning and be told that somebody else was hired. Midnight? Hmmm. How long before that time was the decision made to sign D’Antoni?
In just about everything they have done and said, the Lakers have treated the best coach in the history of the NBA with utter and undeserved disrespect. Plus they have resorted to propagating egregious falsehoods to do so.
Their just rewards are to have a coach who preaches all flash and no substance, and to depend on an almost 39-year-old point guard with a bad back and a recently fractured leg to be their savior.
The newest addition to the SteridanHoops columnist staff, Charley Rosen is an American author and former basketball coach. From 1983–1986, he was an assistant to Phil Jackson with the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association. He also served as head coach of the Patroons, as well as the CBA’s Rockford Lightning, Oklahoma City Cavalry and Savannah Spirits. A native of The Bronx, N.Y., the 71-year-old Rosen is the author of 16 books about basketball. He is known for his in-depth analysis and caustic views.