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Stop the Phil, Kobe Bashing

Jun 13, 2009 – 8:15 PM
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Terence Moore

Terence Moore %BloggerTitle%

Kobe Bryant and Phil JacksonYou likely already know this: Outside of the Laker Nation, folks can't stand Phil and Kobe.

OK, they really dislike them.

Actually, they hate them.

Except for a few little things involving Phil Jackson and several bigger ones involving Kobe Bryant, none of this is justified. You can blame it on their refusal to change their distinctive (some would say grating) personalities. As a result, you have this ugly mixture of jealousy, envy and emotionalism among Phil and Kobe bashers. They are convinced that this extraordinary coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and his nearly incomparable star player are responsible for everything from global warming to those car keys you lost in the summer of 1997.

So after the Lakers dispose of the Orlando Magic within the next few days during these NBA Finals, cover your ears. The Phil and Kobe bashers will scream louder than usual, because Jackson will have his 10th world championship to break his tie with Red Auerbach for the all-time record among coaches.

Worse for those bashers, Bryant will make it official that he can win it all without You Know Who. He'll also have four rings to LeBron James' zero.

I mention LeBron, because on The Likeable Scale, LeBron is the people's choice compared to Kobe. This makes no sense. LeBron has those childish things on his resumé such as tossing chalk into the air before games, embarrassing opponents by clowning with his teammates on the court and sprinting into the night after his Cleveland Cavaliers were shoved out of the playoffs.

Still, LeBron isn't viewed by the Phil and Kobe bashers as "arrogant" -- you know, one of the cleaner words they use to describe Bryant.

As for Jackson, they prefer the "s" word, as in smug.

To hear Phil and Kobe bashers tell it, both Lakers are aloof and downright cocky along the way to insufferable. Then again, these things happen to those involved with consistent greatness, especially if you are controversial. Just ask Alex Rodriguez.

You also can ask those part of legendary powerhouses ranging from the Dallas Cowboys to the Big Red Machine to Duke basketball to the New York Yankees of Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle and Jackson to the Fighting Irish of Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian and Holtz.

But let's stick with NBA history, where Auerbach is considered hoops deity now. He wasn't back then to his slew of bashers. You can blame it on all of that winning by his Boston Celtics teams, along with his noted confidence and his smelly cigars. It was a combination that had the bashers claiming his success was more a product of his rosters stuffed with Hall of Famers than his strategies.

I mean, the man had Bill Russell.

So what strategies?

Sound familiar?

Instead of strategies, Jackson is noted for philosophies. Bizarre ones, at least if you like your coaches to be more into X's and O's than of Zen and Native-American spirituality. Thus the questions from the bashers: Does this eternally cerebral guy who prefers flip-flops and jeans away from the court think he is superior to the rest of his more conventional peers? What day of the week does he pay the refs to get all of those calls for the Lakers, and does he use American dollars or Indian rupees? Plus, he played with the New York Knicks under that other prolific Red named Holzman, so is that why Phil despises the Red from Boston?

Jackson keeps denying such talk, but the bashers aren't listening. Said Phil, regarding the significance of passing Auerbach for that 10th ring: "Every championship is so dramatic and so hard-earned that each one singly stands out. But multitude, two handfuls is ridiculous. I know that. That would be something."

According to the bashers, that would be overrated.

Latest NBA Finals Photos

    Orlando Magic's head coach Stan Van Gundy (L) watches his team's workout from the seats near player Dwight Howard in Orlando, Florida June 13, 2009. The Magic face the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals Sunday. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

    Reuters

    Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant listens to a question during a news conference at the NBA basketball finals Saturday, June 13, 2009 in Orlando, Fla. The Lakers lead the Orlando Magic 3-1 going into Sunday's Game 5. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

    AP

    Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, from Spain, warms up before practice at the NBA basketball finals Saturday, June 13, 2009 in Orlando, Fla. The Lakers lead the Orlando Magic 3-1 going into Sunday's Game 5. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    AP

    Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson helps the ball boys during basketball practice at the NBA Finals, Saturday, June 13, 2009, in Orlando, Fla. The Lakers lead the Orlando Magic 3-1 going into Sunday's Game 5. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    AP

    Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson watches basketball practice at the NBA Finals, Saturday, June 13, 2009, in Orlando, Fla. The Lakers lead the Orlando Magic 3-1 going into Sunday's Game 5. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    AP

    Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher laughs as he walks onto the floor for basketball practice at the NBA Finals, Saturday, June 13, 2009, in Orlando, Fla. The Lakers lead the Orlando Magic 3-1 going into Sunday's Game 5. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    AP

    Orlando Magic's Rafer Alston listens to a reporter's question after a basketball team practice in Orlando, Florida June 13, 2009. Orlando Magic faces the Los Angeles Lakers in Game of the NBA Finals Sunday. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL HEADSHOT)

    Reuters

    Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol laughs during the team's practice in Orlando, Florida June 13, 2009. The Lakers face the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

    Reuters

    Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher, right, stretches before basketball practice at the NBA Finals, Saturday, June 13, 2009, in Orlando, Fla. The Lakers lead the Orlando Magic 3-1 going into Sunday's Game 5. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    AP

    Los Angeles Lakers' Sasha Vujacic, from Slovenia, dribbles with his feet during practice at the NBA basketball finals Saturday, June 13, 2009 in Orlando, Fla. The Lakers lead the Orlando Magic 3-1 going into Sunday's Game 5. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    AP


Just the other day, former NBA player Alonzo Mourning was the latest to say Jackson is a beneficiary of his environment. He won six world championships in Chicago with Michael Jordan, and his three titles with the Lakers featured Shaquille O'Neal playing Batman to Kobe's Robin.

Now Kobe is Batman, and Mourning said of Jackson: "To tell you the truth, Phil doesn't have to do anything but call timeouts. Kobe is the facilitator. He is the one driving the mission of this particular team right now. The communication level he has with his teammates out there, you can just see it. I think Phil is just showing up, to tell you the truth, and Kobe is doing all the work to make this team successful."

At least Mourning isn't a Kobe basher. That's in contrast to a slew of others who will frown before yelling without taking a breath...

He's a snitch.

He tries to act like Michael Jordan.

He forced the Lakers to trade Shaq, because he was jealous of him, and that's why he snitched on him about his alleged womanizing.

He throws elbows.

He's just a dirty player.

He's sneaky.

He yells at his teammates.

He ignores his teammates.

He's a punk.

He's selfish.

He pays refs when Phil doesn't.

They'll mention that Colorado mess, too, when Kobe was involved in his extramarital situation that became a nasty legal matter. He survived after prosecutors dropped the charges, and this is interesting: Many of his bashers said the whole thing made Bryant more human. So before that, they viewed Kobe as -- what? A Martian, a candy bar, a Christmas tree? They don't even know. Blind hatred does such things, but this isn't to say that neither Kobe nor Phil is worthy of criticism.

For instance: Phil didn't invent the offense that he famously runs. Although Jeff Van Gundy once sarcastically referred to Jackson as "Big Chief Triangle," Tex Winter was the architect of the triangle offense. And, as Mourning alluded to, Jackson does just sit there without animation during games. He loathes timeouts. His stated mission is to give his players enough time to work out their various issues on the court.

When it works, Phil looks great. When it doesn't, he looks old.

As for Kobe, he can become self-absorbed on the court. It showed during Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals when he turned the ball over while ignoring his teammates in the midst of a double-team. Plus, in contrast to what Kobe is doing now, he failed to prove during his previous seasons without Shaq that he could make those around him better on the floor and in the locker room.

Nobody's perfect. It's just that in a basketball sense, Phil and Kobe are closer to ranking as such a thing than most, whether their bashers like it or not.
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