Monday, June 15, 2009

Phil Jackson the greatest of all time?

I mentioned this in the last blog post, and it's actually a topic I kicked around years ago during my radio show in Raleigh.

I am convinced, at long last, the Phil Jackson is, in fact, the best NBA coach of all time.

That also means, I have reversed my stance from more than 7 years ago.

The knock on Jackson has been that he has always had great talent, and who can't win with that kind of talent? The answer is simple. The guys that had the talent before he arrived. In Chicago, the Bulls had a young, budding star in Michael Jordan. They had made playoff appearances under Doug Collins, and Stan Albeck, but never broken through.

Enter Jackson. Winners

Del Harris had a talented Lakers team, but couldn't get them through that title barrier.

Exit Harris, enter Jackson. Winner.

In Chicago, the was Jordan, Scottie Pippen, John Paxson. They would rotate parts, phasing out Paxson, bringing in Steve Kerr. Out with Will Perdue, in with Luc Longley. The coach, and his assistant Tex Winter had a system that worked. Even with Dennis Rodman.

Same holds true in LA. Kobe and Shaq when he arrived. Kobe, Trevor Ariza, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom in the fold now. He has talented players.

What Jackson does is blend all that talent, and all of those millionaire egos into a team that functions better than any other. His x's and o's are solid, his mind is incredible. I have said that anyone can win with that talent.

Turns out, very few can do it, and do it as routinely as Jackson.

Switching gears to hockey, congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup, and making one of my blog predictions come true. Can we lay off Sidney Crosby? Please? He's the youngest captain to lift the Stanley Cup, and you would think he was guilty of grand theft auto.

Detroit Red Wing players were miffed that Crosby didn't shake all of their hands, and made Niklas Lidstrom (the Detroit captain) wait at the front of that line, while he and his teammates celebrated.

Can we step back and look at this a little closer? Crosby is 21. He and his team had just overcome deficits of 2-0, and 3-2 in this series, and won hockey's Holy Grail. They had to beat the defending champions on the road in order to do it. Crosby was also injured in game 7, missing much of the 2nd period, and seeing limited ice time in the 3rd.

Forgive the young man for being a little overjoyed in the moment.

Crosby snubbed no one. Crosby was a joyous hockey player, that had just reached the dream he's had for his entire life. This kid has as much reverence for the game, and its traditions, than anyone.

Once the Wings stop being bitter, I'm sure they'll realize that their chirping after being the only team in the Finals to lose on home ice, sounded like nothing more than sour grapes.

Mike Solarte

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