Will Game 5 Postgame Be as Funny for Lakers as Pregame?
And if coach Phil Jackson was any sort of spokesman for the defending champions in his pregame media gathering, it would take a chainsaw to cut the tension in his locker room.
There simply wasn't any.
Jackson has gone out of his way to keep the vibe loose after his team dropped the last two games against these dynamic and upstart Thunder, not only with his players but with the media and even the fans. When he was at a local gas station earlier today, a Lakers fan approached and could only offer a half-hearted "good luck" because hope seemed so slim.
"There's a lot of concern; there's no doubt about it," Jackson told a large group of reporters approximately 90 minutes before tipoff. "I've been lightening the mood all along the way."
He did just that from start to finish of what was a comical meeting with the media. Asked about Ron Artest's disappearing three-point shot (he's 3 of 19 in the series), Jackson said he had asked the small forward to stop taking the corner three that hasn't fallen all series. He quickly added, "I know he'll probably take one anyway, but that's Ron ... (But) at some point, you have to give it up."
Los Angeles Times beat writer Mike Bresnahan soon thereafter became part of a distraction because, well, Jackson was distracted by his bright teal tie.
"The glare from your tie is overwhelming," Jackson said with a smile.
Next up was Brian Kamenetzy of ESPN Los Angeles, who asked Jackson if he was curious to see how his team would respond to such a pivotal game considering it hadn't responded all that well in such situations during the regular season.
"I'm not that curious," Jackson said with a sly grin. "I'll stay in the locker room and watch the other game."
A more serious topic was then broached, as T.J. Simers of the LA Times asked Jackson how he avoided being fined by NBA commissioner David Stern for calling him heavy handed fter his recent rash of $35,000 fines.
"I won't address that question at all," Jackson said with deliberate tone while at his wooden podium. "I'll stick that (answer) underneath this board (above his knees). I'm tempering my irresponsible tongue."
The always-intentional Jackson made it clear why he was keeping it light, as he is of the opinion that playing out of desperation leads to the sort of mental mistakes and force-fed style that doesn't bode well for any team. A few hours from now, of course, we'll see if the pleasant Lakers mood remains.
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