Nash, Gentry Fire Back at Phil Jackson
PHOENIX -- Maybe it was the long layoff between games, or maybe it's just that he can't help himself. Either way, Phil Jackson once again began to lobby the officials before the beginning of a playoff series, just as he's done in many years past, and just as he did in this post-season before the Lakers faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.
Steve Nash was the target of Jackson's not-so-subtle remarks this time, with Phil responding to a question about whether it was difficult to simulate Nash in practice in a way that accused the Suns' star of a rule violation.
"Yeah, because you can't carry the ball like he does in practice," Jackson said. "You can't pick that ball up and run with it."
At Suns practice on Saturday, both Nash and Alvin Gentry were very good-natured in their responses to Jackson's comments. But each of them made sure to get in some shots of their own along the way.
"I've been in the league 14 years and I don't know if I've been called for a carry yet," Nash said. "It's news to me. I've never heard anyone complain about me carrying the ball, but, you know, it's fun."
Nash followed up that comment with what may be perceived as a little jab of his own.
"The best coach in the league, Gregg Popovich, didn't have a problem with it last week."
Gentry did his best to play Jackson's game, and gave the officials something to take a closer look at on the Lakers' side of things.
"We spent a lot of time today ducking elbows on post-ups," Gentry said. "So it all works out."
Gentry laughed when it was pointed out that with a week off between series, maybe Phil just wanted to give the media something to write about.
"Yeah, now you can write about us dodging elbows in the post, and Steve carrying the basketball," Gentry said.
Amar'e Stoudemire wasn't quite as lighthearted when discussing Jackson's comments, and definitely agreed with his coach as far as the Lakers and their elbows are concerned.
"Typical Phil," Stoudemire said. "Phil's going to have his philosophies, so we've just got to keep playing, not really pay too much attention to it.
"Watching the Lakers play, there's definitely a few elbows that are being thrown, in all seriousness. But we've just got to play smart, and not really get too much into it."
All of this is fun for the fans and the media during a long week off between games, but Gentry didn't believe for a second that the officials would actually be influenced by any of Jackson's banter.
"No, heck no," Gentry said. "These guys have been reffing games forever ... It's going to be called, and we're going to play and they're going to play, and it's going to be a good series. We appreciate what Phil says."
And in case you were wondering, Gentry has no plans on continuing any of this once the series gets started.
"It's not a mind game, it's going to be decided on the court," Gentry said. "The team that plays the best is going to win the series, and it doesn't matter how many mind games, or what's out there. That's just the way it is."