Hartnett: Lakers Are Ready-Made For Phil Jackson
By Sean Hartnett
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Shortly after receiving the dreaded vote of confidence from Lakers’ vice president Jim Buss, the ax fell on Mike Brown just five games into the NBA season.
Nobody does drama like “The Lake Show.” We’re barely into November and already — the Lakers combusted and burst into flames.
Following the Oklahoma City Thunder dealing James Harden to the Houston Rockets, the Lakers were expected to be the class of the Western Conference. Expectations were through the roof after two-time MVP point guard Steve Nash and elite six-time All-Star center Dwight Howard joined a starting five that already included Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
This Lakers Team Is Ready-Made For “The Zen Master.”
It’s always win-now in Los Angeles. That’s what the Lakers are about. They’re not a project, they’re a finished product that only needs the right hand to guide them. All the pieces are there for Los Angeles to make a championship run.
While Mike Brown deserves sympathy for getting the chop after just five games, the on-court results were abysmal considering the talent at his disposal. Judging by the all-world talent that was available to Brown, you can’t fault the Lakers for promptly handing Brown the pink slip.
Steve Nash is 38, Antawn Jamison is 36 and Kobe Bryant is 34. Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Steve Blake are all 32.
The Lakers must win now. They need someone who can right their ship immediately. The man who can do this right away is Phil Jackson.
The New Lakers Would Be An Ideal Fit For Jackson
Phil Jackson is 67. He likes to inherit teams with the talent that can win right away. This team is built for him. Kobe is still a superstar, Dwight Howard is the most talented center in the league since Shaquille O’Neal worked under Jackson in his prime. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are not only talented, savvy veterans — they’re also selfless individuals who would relish the challenge of working under Jackson.
Jackson has never worked with a point guard anywhere near the talent of Nash. I’d imagine that chance to work with Nash and the opportunity to mold Dwight Howard the way he molded Shaq would be too difficult for Jackson to resist.
If there’s any coach who Howard would put his ego aside for, it would be Jackson. Howard knows Jackson turned Shaq from the league’s most talented center into something greater — a winner and helped O’Neal form his legacy.
D’Antoni Is The Backup Plan
Should Phil Jackson turn down the chance to take the reigns of Lakers for a third time, former Knicks’ head coach Mike D’Antoni would be the Lakers’ unanimous second option.
Earlier this week, I said D’Antoni wasn’t going to get an NBA coaching job any time soon. That’s because it would take a very unique opportunity that would interest D’Antoni and it would take a team that would accept D’Antoni’s unconventional offense and unorthodox coaching philosophies.
Lakers fans have always demanded “Showtime Basketball.” D’Antoni would be a very popular choice among the Lakers’ fan base because his Phoenix Suns teams of the mid-2000’s played the most electrifying brand of basketball since the 1980’s “Showtime Lakers” led by Magic Johnson.
Even at 38, Nash is the closest thing to Magic. The chance to play under D’Antoni again would excite Nash as Brown’s Princeton offense slowed down Nash who enjoys playing uptempo basketball in an offense that allows creativity — and that’s exactly what D’Antoni would bring if hired by the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant also admires D’Antoni. Not has D’Antoni coached Bryant as an assistant under Mike Kzyzewski for Team USA, Bryant knew D’Antoni from a young age.
Bryant idolized D’Antoni as a boy while growing up in Italy while father Joe “Jellybean” Bryant played alongside D’Antoni for Olympia Milano. When Kobe entered the NBA, he wore number 8 because that was D’Antoni’s number in Italy.
Lakers Will Make A Quick Decision
The Lakers aren’t making long guarantees about how long Bernie Bickerstaff will be installed as interim head coach. Whether it’s Jackson or D’Antoni, one will be named as permanent Lakers’ head coach in the near future.
I’m leaning toward Jackson having the obvious edge due to his track record of NBA titles in “Lakertown.” It’s his job to accept or turn down. While D’Antoni’s style of basketball would delight Nash and the Lakers’ fan base, his philosophies failed him in New York and was unable to capture a championship in Phoenix.
Hollywood loves drama and the return of “The Zen Master” is too good of a story not to happen. The Lakers need to win now and Phil Jackson is the obvious remedy.
Will “The Zen Master” take over the Lakers for a third time and revitalize “The Lake Show?” Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.