Kamenetzky Bros. Power Rankings: The Phil Jackson Effect … On Both Coasts

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Phil_Jackson_3In the eyes of many, the unbridled mess that is the New York Knicks just received the most drastic makeover this side of Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club” upon hiring Phil Jackson as team president and Zen Master Extraordinaire. Hopes are high in the Big Apple, but plenty of question marks linger, even for a man with 11 rings.

It remains to be seen whether Jackson’s arrival provides enough confidence and stability to convince Carmelo Anthony to re-up. (A cynic, however, might suspect Jackson provides the Knicks cover should Melo bolt.) It remains to be seen whether Jackson has the acumen to build a team from the ground up with no front office experience. It remains to be seen whether Jackson, nearly 70 years old, has the energy for this gig’s daily grind and the patience to build the right way.

Most importantly, it remains to be seen whether Jackson can work under owner James Dolan, famously viewed as an egomaniacal and idiotic lunatic seemingly out to destroy Madison Square Garden’s biggest attraction. (He does play a mean guitar, though.)

Still, Jackson oozes gravitas, and that alone could be enough to lure A-list free agents, which is half the battle. Plus, that basketball brain ain’t inconsiderable. A turnaround is hardly a given, but it’s certainly easy to understand why New York would roll the (very expensive) dice.

kobeIn the meantime, Jackson hasn’t held a position with the Los Angeles Lakers since retiring as coach in 2011 and was unlikely to become their employee again. But for some Lakers front office types, players and fans, it feels like an asset and a member of the family has left them.

And that’s precisely why this development might actually be a positive for the Lakers in the long run.

To a very palpable degree, Jackson’s presence has been a paralyzing element for the Lakers. Internally, he’s been a point of contention between Jim and Jeanie Buss (who’s often passive-aggressively exacerbated the situation), and between Jim Buss and Kobe Bryant.

Externally, he is the prism through which fans and media evaluate every decision. Had the front office not foolishly allowed expectations for Jackson’s third stint as coach, Mike D’Antoni likely would have been warmly received. Instead, he became regarded as the guy who should have been P.J.

Jackson’s absence has been blamed for Dwight Howard’s departure, as if other factors (namely, Bryant’s presence) weren’t obvious deterrents as well. And with Jackson theoretically available to be brought into the front office, Buss has been continually crushed for not hiring him. Never mind that Buss would likely have had to surrender his own job for The Zen Master, not to mention alter plans set by the late Dr. Jerry Buss.

If you want to argue keeping Jackson at arm’s length is foolish, fair enough. But it’s nonetheless impossible to deny how the setup is inherently problematic.

Thus, if Jackson wasn’t going to be hired by the Lakers, it’s actually best for him to be officially off the table as an option. For better or worse, he is no longer available to serve as a wedge, and all the important principals have no choice but to truly move forward.

Kobe has a responsibility to support the owner who gave him an exceptionally generous (and cap-clogging) extension. Jeanie has a responsibility to put the franchise first and avoid taking this development personally. And with Jackson no longer casting a shadow, Jim has a responsibility to deliver. Even as someone who thinks Jim has taken some unfair lumps, there’s no question he’s got a lot to prove.

Time for everybody to get to work.

On to the rankings.

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SH Blog: Phil Jackson will officially join Knicks on Tuesday; Rockets to pursue Carmelo Anthony in Free Agency; Klay Thompson first to 500 3′s

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Phil JacksonThe week of March 9th-16th should hence forth be known as Phil Jackson Week.

In the world of basketball at least.

Because as the Zen Master continues to dominate the daily headlines, well, that’s sure what it feels like.  

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Tweet of the Day: Kobe Bryant Out For The Remainder Of The 2013-14 Season

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Father time gets the better of everyone from time to time. Just this afternoon, I played pickup ball at the local gym and he gave me the business; knees sore, hip sore, back sore, muscles fatigued…and I am no elite athlete.

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, however, is.

But, like myself and many other individuals in this world—All-Star athlete or not, time and injury often prevent us from doing what we love most.

For me, I love art—whether drawing or writing—as much as I love basketball, but I occasionally have bouts with wrist pain that make typing or moving a pencil difficult, just as my surgically repaired ACL doesn’t often hold up when I want to play active sports like basketball.

It’s just nature, the older the body gets, the longer recovery takes.

Bryant, who missed the first 19 games of the season while rehabilitating a torn achilles tendon, suffered a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee in just his sixth game back. Since, he has been limited in his ability to play basketball, much less anything else. He has even voiced his frustrations earlier this week in a sit-down interview with Kustoo.com.

It’s progressing slowly. It really tests my patience. There’s only so much you can do, so I find myself relegated to riding the bike. After the first few weeks, it’s cool — you’re getting a good workout. Then third, fourth — I need to do something else. I want to play. I want to run. I want to do something different, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

The frustration, while still there, may now subside as the team has officially announced that Bryant will be sitting out the remainder of the season.

Tweet of the Night: Rick Fox says the best part of watching Lakers-Clippers is free gum

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Mike D'AntoniThe Los Angeles Lakers are 21-41 this season, so the logical thing to do was to believe that things couldn’t get much worse for this bunch.

Then Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers happened, where they were historically bad.

After a competitive first quarter between the two teams, the Clippers completely broke the game open in the second quarter, leading 73-40 at half time.

The final score? 142-94.

It was the Clippers’ biggest margin of victory ever, and the most lopsided loss in Lakers’ history. The Lakers have now lost the last two games against the Clippers by a combined score of 84 points. 

Big Day For ‘The Big Diesel’, Shaquille O’Neal

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There are many names for four-time NBA champion and future Hall of Fame great Shaquille O’Neal—many of which he has given himself:  The Big Aristotle, The Big Galactus, Shaqtus, Diesel, Steel and Hobo Master (yes, Hobo Master) among others.

Thursday O’Neal celebrated his birthday. After a long NBA career and continued success off the court, perhaps it’s time to consider a new name…perhaps The Big Father Time?

As he continues to grow older, his popularity still remains. Three of the basketball organizations that he played for professionally—stateside and in international play (having won gold medals in the ’94 FIBA World Championship and ’96 Summer Olympics)—took time recognize his birthday.

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