ORLANDO -- That lucky Phil Jackson did it again. He just sat there on his makeshift throne, smirked and watched his superior players beat up on another sorry team and gift-wrap him another title.
That's what a lot of Boston fans are saying today. For all we know, that's what Red Auerbach is saying.
It must have really pained them to watch Jackson get on the stage after Sunday's night's win. Everybody else was sporting a gray cap proclaiming the Lakers NBA Champions.
Jackson 's had on a yellow one with one purple letter on the front.
No, Spike Lee hadn't just given Jackson a leftover prop from Malcolm X. It was X as in 10, X as in one more than title than Auerbach, X as in the numbers don't lie.
Jackson is the greatest coach in NBA history.
Maybe we should say modern NBA history, meaning when players stopped putting on canvas sneakers and started wearing jewelry. That way, we could still call Auerbach the greatest coach in Paleontological NBA history and appease the Celtics/Auerbach diehards.
There really is no way to definitively say Coach A or Coach B is the greatest coach of all time. It's like saying Alexander the Great was a better conqueror than Genghis Kahn or Robert E. Lee could command circles around George S. Patton.
As tough as those guys had it, none had to deal with free agency or Dennis Rodman.
Different eras make head-to-head comparisons impossible. But I could easily argue that Jackson would have had an easier time succeeding in Auerbach's era than Auerbach would in Jackson's.
I could, but that would just irritate the Celtics faithful. We come not to bury Auerbach. We come to praise Coach X.
"I'll smoke a cigar tonight in his memory," Jackson said of old Red.
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That did allude to one reason Auerbach couldn't make it big today: He'd be banned from every NBA building for incessant cigar smoking. That habit irritated everybody Auerbach beat, just as today's losers view Jackson's trademark smirk as sign of smugness. It probably is, but you'd be smirking too if you had as many rings as you do fingers and thumbs.
Jackson's latest piece of jewelry may be his favorite. He did it without Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen or Shaquille O'Neal. If only he'd done it without Kobe Bryant, his critics might give him his due.
"I don't know Phil Jackson at all," Stan Van Gundy said. "But damn, look at the guy's record. It's undeniable."
If you insist on saying Jackson is just a good coach blessed with great players, the Flat Earth Society has a membership form for you.
"I don't know of a team that's ever won it once that didn't have great players," Van Gundy said.
That would include Auerbach's Celtics teams, unless Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Bob Cousy and K.C. Jones really weren't all that great.
This Lakers team wasn't great. It was a very good team with a great player. Whatever his team's physical or emotional makeup has been over the years, Jackson found ways to get the most out of his players.
"Phil's belief in his players, I think, far outweighs any other coach that I've played for, in terms of his willingness to let the players be players and make plays," Derek Fisher said.
You saw it throughout the Finals. Fisher hitting killer 3-pointers in Game 4. Trevor Ariza going LeBron on the Magic during the second quarter Sunday night. More importantly, Bryant developing enough faith to let his teammates do some of the lifting.
This was undoubtedly Bryant's finest hour. If only he would have taken the microphone from Stuart Scott at the trophy presentation and started rapping back at O'Neal. We all remember Shaq's rant after the Lakers lost last year's Finals. He screeched that Kobe would never win without him and told his former teammate to taste his rear end.
Shaq has Twittered throughout the series that he was pulling for the Lakers. If you believe that, I have a warehouse full of Kazaam DVDs to sell you.
It was a lot easier for Kobe to prove he bested Shaq than for Jackson to prove he got over on Auerbach. Maybe if Red could Twitter he would give Jackson his due.
"U can coach Zen Man. "
Auerbach was rarely so benevolent toward Jackson while he was alive. Maybe it was hard for him to respect all that psycho-babble, or the fact Jackson never won a title with a starting lineup of four midgets and a blind man.
Whatever, it was fitting that Bill Russell was on stage to present the MVP trophy to Bryant. Please note the great center did not walk off or turn his back when the great coach came to the front wearing his X hat.
Jackson was asked if he could put No. 10 in historical perspective.
"I can," he said, "but I'd like to say it's really about the players."
Auerbach fans will call that false modesty. That doesn't matter. The only people who really mattered bought what Jackson was selling.
They could also see that this title was special. Jackson is 63, but two hip replacements have left him as spry as a man 40 years older. He sits on a raised, cushioned seat to make it through games.
He doesn't know how many more NBA years he has left, but it might be zero.
"You can see in his eyes how ecstatic he is," Bryant said.
When they got to the locker room, Bryant made a point for the players to encircle their coach and crank up a champagne shower.
"He took off his glasses, threw back his head and soaked it all in," Bryant said.
Now he may well hobble into the sunset, though the question will remain.
If you aren't convinced of Jackson 's status by now, you never will be. For those not blinded by cigar smoke, the answer is easy.
Who is the greatest coach ever?
X marks the spot.