Zen Master is to Blame

Special thanks to Faith for writing this take and giving us the privilege to add it to TheLakersNation.com. Again, if you guys see anything Lakers related that you think deserves to be put up, just e-mail us at articles@TheLakersNation.com.

Phil Jackson has won 9 rings.

After last season, many will say he has lost his touch. Some will even go as far to say that he never had it to begin with. But the fact of the matter is, he’s doing the best with what he’s got and that isn’t much.

Earlier in the year, with the team up in the standings, Phil Jackson was hailed brilliant. Some were even counting on a Coach of the Year recognition. Most believed it was his best coaching job ever.

He got a passive Lamar Odom to be the most aggressive he’s ever been in his 8 year career. Luke Walton was putting up career numbers, and really was on his way to be considered for the most improved player of the year. Kwame Brown threw away less passes! And even Sasha Vujacic had a game winning game*!

Then the tide turned, injuries started to plague an already unstable team, and we made the playoffs only on the shoulders of one Kobe Bean Bryant.

Was Phil Jackson brilliant in his decision to let Mamba loose? Perhaps. Was he as much to blame for the downward spiral of our team? Probably. After all as the coach, he could have emphasized defense a bit more, effort a bit more, not to mention heart. But the fact of the matter is, he did what he could with this team. Yes, he could have and probably should have played Smush Parker less, Mo Evans, Farmar and Shammond Williams more. But with our roster, he really didn’t have much of a choice.

Smush Parker with all his problems and of which there were many, really was the best player for the job (on paper). He was athletic, and could shoot (until, of course, it got really really bad). Luke Walton, though not starter material, is a big part of the offense running smoothly. Bynum was given as much time as he showed he could handle. Jordan Farmar was given a chance to excel and even a second chance when he struggled.

But still the team discombobulated. Phil, as coach, has some of the responsibility for that (losing control of the team was not good), but so does the players. Injuries are the name of the game, but heart and effort disappeared for large periods of time, too long for comfort. It got to the point where only Kobe was playing. The Front Office is also responsible. The
onus is on the Front Office to put out there the best team possible. And can we honestly say that was the best team possible?

This coming season, Phil as well as the players need to improve. Need to right the ship. Losing control of one’s team (to the tune of them shooting too many 3′s against the coaches wishes), should not be tolerated. Defense NEEDS TO BE emphasized. And like last year, Phil has to find the balance between staying on top of the team, and letting them figure it out for themselves. Some players need to find consistency.

Whether by praying to the Gods, or practicing diligently, it has to be done. Others need to discover defense–brain washing may be essential. Regardless, they have to have it in them. If this season is to turn out the way we as fans expect, deserve and want it to, the players need to have that light bulb turn on. Phil can no more hold their hands than we can kick their butt.

In the meantime, who’s gonna tell the Front Office to improve? To right this ship, so we don’t have a season like last, once more? We do. It’s our responsibility. Write them, call them, or picket. We need to show them we accept nothing less than Laker worthy.

*I’m not sure but I think Sasha’s game winner (from Luke to Sasha for the win) was during the 06-07 season, if not I apologize.

Jaime is the co-owner and Operating Director for LakerNation.com from Alhambra, CA. He's help create the official websites for Kevin Durant and Goodwin Sports. Currently, he's the Online Producer for FOX Sports Radio and AM570 KLAC.
  • Michael_23

    This article is full of BS. Have respect for coach and appreciate what he’s done and what he’s been through.

  • fatty

    Michael_23
    “This article is full of BS. Have respect for coach and appreciate what he’s done and what he’s been through.”

    The article was respectful, not quite sure what you mean. If we want to improve, you have to recognize our faults, shortcomings, analyze what needs to be done, and than follow through. Otherwise you will repeat the same mistakes that you made before.
    By the way, isn’t this what Laker Blogs are all about?

    Maybe, you can reread the article and be more specific about your complaints. I think your misunderstanding the jist of Faith’s points.

  • fatty

    Discombobulatism – The art of being disjointed, a state of chaos in which everyone moves about with seemingly no purpose. (See Lakers 2nd half of season)

    This Laker team was beaten and forgot how to win. On the coaches orders, Kobe took over, and we barely qualified for the playoffs.

    Injuries was a key to the problem. But Smush had a lot to do with our team attitude. Interestingly, Smush said on his aquisition to Miami that he would become the ‘Floor General’ for Riley.

    I’ve never seen Parker show any of those qualities as a leader for the Lakers. In point of fact, just the opposite.
    That’s why Fisher will be such a good aquisition for the Lakers. We needed a ‘Floor General’. We need some semblance of ‘command and control’. Having Fisher do his part, will allow Kobe and Odom to do their part. He will bring consistancy to our game.

    He doesn’t have all the abilities we would like in a point guard, but has all the intangibles we need to build toward a title contender.

    If there is a Laker God, he gave us a gift in Fisher. Fish is exactly what we needed. Sometimes, what we want, isn’t what we need.

    Out of the chaos of last year, a clearly defined mission is coming forth. I wish we had more talent, but we ain’t all that bad either. A Phil Jackson coached team, led by the greatest player on the planet, guided by a mature point guard, a little luck with health, will be a good team to watch.

    If bad health catches us again, at least we have the Lakers Girls to enjoy.

  • bhpreppy

    You can’t bite the hand that feeds you as they say. After a season of dealing with egos of second tier players, there is no way any blame can be placed on Phil. People were begging him to come back after the 2004-2005 season. Well anything is better than what Rudy T. put on the floor; however, in his first year, The Lakers won 45 games and last year were on pace to win somewhere along the lines of the high 40′s, low 50′s. Even if injuries aren’t taken into consideration for the team’s downfall last year, the Lakers easily would have reached the 50 win plateau had they not lost so many close decisions to SUB 500 TEAMS! What everyone is forgetting is that the front office has all of the power in dictating what’s going to happen with Kobe. Of course, once the team wins 50 games this year, everyone is going to praise Phil and the front office again because most of you guys are band wagon fans. We got rid of our cancer-Smush. Kobe will dominate. And how can you guys keep saying you want to get Odom when he is a top 7 power forward in this league. I think last year’s playoffs was a good lesson for this team and hopefully it will be used by Phil to teach Lamar his growth and potential.

  • gugy

    seriously I can’t believe you guys are giving PJ hard time.
    This Lakers team is lame and the best coach in the world could not make them a contender. If there is someone to blame is the Lakers FO.

    For me this article is just a way to keep you guys entertain because this summer is being sucks in terms of activity on the Lakers front. Bring JO

  • MILO

    gugy, i totaly disagree with you! i find the artical interesting and do partialy blame Phil

  • Faith

    I’m sorry you feel that way Michael23, but in all actuality the whole point of the article is that PJ isn’t as much to blame as we all think (title was being facetious).

    It said so in the first paragraph.

    Still I hold steadfast to my points, among the many that needs to improve (and really imo PJ has the least of it), he’s one of them.

  • Faith

    My favorite line…

    “Phil can no more hold their hands than we can kick their butt.”

    You can actually take out Phile and put in Kobe, and the same idea applies. Though I’m pretty positive some Laker fans can kick a 6’0 200 pound player lol.

  • http://theworldvoice.com LUUUUKE

    sorry but i think you got this one wrong. we had sooooooooo many injuries last season, more so than any other team. Jesus could be the head coach of the Lakers but if all the key players are injured they’re still going to lose. It seemed after a while like kobe was the only one playing because with all those injuries he was the only one on the court who COULD PLAY. Phil deserves no blame except for playing smush parker too much.

  • kyler_hay

    [quote comment="12962"]My favorite line…

    “Phil can no more hold their hands than we can kick their butt.”

    You can actually take out Phile and put in Kobe, and the same idea applies. Though I’m pretty positive some Laker fans can kick a 6’0 200 pound player lol.[/quote]

    kobe is 6″6

  • Faith

    I know that. I meant all of our players that are 6’0 up.

    I think our shortest is Farmar at 6’0.

  • MacBSlick

    Faith

    Phil and his offense may be the biggest factor in why a major trade hasnt happened. Phil wont trade 4 or 5 of his experienced triangle players for 1 or 2 players with no triangle experience at all and fillers with no tri exp to boot. Then hed be starting over again. And your right that all the players need to take that Giant step forward or next year we will be cleaning house. This being Phils last season contract wise. And no I dont blame Phil at all. These are “Professionals” and shouldnt have to be told a 1000 times to play defense or to stop shooting the 3 ball. By now Phil should be able to give this team all the Triangle Offense has to offer. Can they finally put it all together? We shall see. Should be quite an interesting season ahead of us for sure.

  • cyrus

    An author who just praises Kobe as the greatest player and Phil Jackson as the supreme coach is like a priest preaching to the choir in a church on a slow day.

    What’s wrong with you guys? This blog is there for everybody to express their opinions and concerns, and if you think the author is wrong, support your claim with some facts and technicalities ( like some comments on this thread). However, I agree that blaming Phil, point blank, is a bit harsh. Placing a question mark after the sentence would have been fair.

    Like most of you, I believe in Phil and I think he’s one the greatest ever coached the game. But even the best have their weakness and there is nothing wrong with pointing out soft spots.

    Holding players hand and walking them through each game is micromanagement and unlike Pat Riley, Phil Jackson is not a micromanaging coach. A team like the Lakers, with mediocre players needs a coach to control every single move, pass and possession. Phil is not that type of coach but he’s doing his best to help them. Phil Jackson has stated repeatedly that he feels the Lakers with the present roster don’t need a ten million dollar coach. The truth is that the Lakers have the best player on the planet with a Hall of Fame coach and don’t know what to do with them.

    The transition of ownership from father to son is our main problem and if we have to play the blaming game, the narcissistic Jimmy Buss and his incompetent puppet, Mitch Kupchak, would be good start.

  • shortdiezel

    I believe Jackson is part of the Lakers gradual downfall. He is the COACH. It is his responsiblity to right the ship when it is sinking. True he can not force the players to follow his instructions, but he can make adjustments when they are not followed.

    For one, his method of letting the players play through droughts and opposition runs is BS, especially for a young and inexperienced team. If any team goes down by 8 or more points without scoring, you need to call a timeout, not wait until they are down 15 points.

    In addition, Phil needs to be more involved with his players and display his passion and emotions on the court. When I used to play for a team and saw my coach running up and down the court yelling at the top of his lungs, I got motivated. That is why I have so much respect for Avery Johnson. You hardly see Phil ever congratulate his players on a good game or good play. Show some passion for the guys that are playing their hearts out for you.

    Lastly, I blame Phil the most with not putting Lamar Odom in the post. Every game I am yelling at the T.V. Why is Lamar on the wing? You need to let him use his God Given talents. He is faster than most power forwards, and is more effective in the post. Don’t make him create his own shot. Put a couple of more pounds on him, and leave him down there with Kobe and Fish and the wings.

    I have a lot of respect for Phil and I believe he is one of the GREATEST coaches, but he needs to realize that his old tactics and strategies aren’t working. He needs to adjust to the talents and strengths of his players, and to tell you the truth I don’t think the triangle offense is the answer anymore.

    say word…

  • ra

    Nothing wrong with Phil. However, Phil = Triangle. The triangle is not necessarily easy to master, let alone ‘keep in your head’ while you’re playing. Contrast with Suns = run gun. No brainer there: run as fast you can, pass around, pick ‘n roll, shoot. Now, everyone in the NBA is a ‘professional’ player, so they better learn the ‘plays’, but it is acknowledged that the triangle ‘has to be learned’, and takes time to learn.

    The T worked well in the Shaq/Kobe days, but shifting had to be done for it to work for a ‘non-center’ as the key player. This has probably been a challenge with the existing Laker team. (ok, it worked fine in the MJ days)

    Since the T is Phil’s specialty (ok, props to Tex Winter as well), when it is working well, it is arguably the ‘best’ offense. When it is not, there could be trouble.

    These players not only have to keep a host of items in mind when playing, but also have to keep in mind ‘am I in the triangle’? Should I be part of the left triangle? The right triangle? where is my defender? etc. etc. ….

    Basketball is a game which requires intelligence and thought, in addition to skill and instinct. Phil is a ‘skill-based’ coach. When the team is ‘skilled’ at this offense, look out.

  • J-Cool

    Phil Shouldn’t Be Blamed Because He Was One Of The Reason We Made It To The Playoffs It Wasn’t His Fault We Didn’t Get Past The First Round It Was Kwame And Smush Fault

  • Faith

    Thanks for the replies guys.

    Good point shortdiezel. I too believe LO belongs in the post. I don’t think he should be pigeonholed into the Pippen role, he’s not Pippen although he can do some of the things Pippen did.

    I’m with you on the 10 million Cyrus. My “that isn’t much” comment had to do with exactly that. Like I said, it’s not a piece per say of “PJ is to be Blamed” (though the title said so, it was more of a pun, sarcasm bit)…though you won’t catch my saying he’s completely blameless. Because as the coach, he does have some responsibility.

    I don’t dispute the injury aspect, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t make mistakes either, tack on the players as well. They’re all collectively responsible. Some (PJ) less than others of course.

  • kyler_hay

    [quote comment="12967"]I know that. I meant all of our players that are 6’0 up.

    I think our shortest is Farmar at 6’0.[/quote]

    OHH I C FAITH

  • http://myspace.com/crunklilgangsta LiL_K

    i dont lke this article

  • MILO

    Keep24, i just want to congratulate you for beeing the first one to open up the gate’s on this whole debate, and for beeing the first one who said something about Phil back in the Krzyzewski has Bryant’s back artical yeaterday.

  • MILO

    LiL_K, sorry! i strongly disagree with you, this is a great artical.It definitely served it’s purpose, it got all of us worked up and posting comment’s.Keep in mind they are not completely blaming Phil, but he is a factor as far as im concerned.After all he’s the one calling the shots when the players take the floor.

  • MILO

    Faith, great artical!!!

  • gugy

    god bless PJ!

    He did a fantastic job before the injuries crippled the team. The problem was attitude from many players that did not give their hearts when we need it.
    Remember we were nothing until he came and turned the team around with Shaq and Kobe. He can do it again, but Kobe needs help and the team needs o put some heart on it. Except Kobe and Odom, the Lakers were a joke in the playoffs last season. who out there were playing with heart and determination? nobody but kobe and Odom.

  • fatty

    Luuuuke,
    “Jesus could be the head coach of the Lakers but…”

    Of course the obvious reply would be. If Jesus was the coach, he could heal all the players, cure Kwame’s hand problems, and curse the Suns to become withered and dried. He could also send that wicked Stu Jackson to Hades, and if necessary, walk on water to give us a title. He still would’ve been betrayed by that evil attitude in Smush Parker.

    Of course, we the Laker Fans, with little faith, would have never received such blessings.

  • rompx

    dude now phil is the one to blame why cant we just wait till the season starts damn crappy article and if phil does leave i want larry brown

  • Darkblaze

    If Phil leaves get Coach K!!!!!!! ;-)

  • ab4sure

    The Lakers were on pace to win 53-54 games……Then the downward spiral began….Injuries>>>caused PJ to rely on Kobe too much and Kobe took too much of the scoring load>>>Kobe was a sieve on defense just like the rest of the Lakers>>>the losses mounted>>>the players continued to look to Kobe too much and Kobe took too many shots>>>the lakers won a few more games because Kobe took more shots>>>but it hurt the development of the younger lakers including Odom who did not step up>>>this left Kobe feeling helpless and angry>>>and led to his outburst>>>…….all in all the lakers needed to develop consistency and chemistry which they did little the last half of the season when Kobe became a one man show….would they have made the playoffs if he shot less??? maybe not, but the lakers are shooting for a championship not the playoffs…but I believe they are on their way…..Injuries set off this chain reaction which has ultimately led to Kobe’s discontent and even led to panicky laker fans who are so depressed…I have been a laker fan for some time and am very excited about this team…Bynum and Critt are going to make their mark with the Lakers…Fisher and a healthy Mihm will add experience…there is one more trade I believe the lakers should do to get experienced frontcourt help, but I will make that case on the challenge.

    I think all of you laker fans need to see the movie “Shawshank Redemption”. Perhaps it will give you some hope.

  • BEC

    [quote comment="12973"]I believe Jackson is part of the Lakers gradual downfall. He is the COACH. It is his responsiblity to right the ship when it is sinking. True he can not force the players to follow his instructions, but he can make adjustments when they are not followed.

    For one, his method of letting the players play through droughts and opposition runs is BS, especially for a young and inexperienced team. If any team goes down by 8 or more points without scoring, you need to call a timeout, not wait until they are down 15 points.

    In addition, Phil needs to be more involved with his players and display his passion and emotions on the court. When I used to play for a team and saw my coach running up and down the court yelling at the top of his lungs, I got motivated. That is why I have so much respect for Avery Johnson. You hardly see Phil ever congratulate his players on a good game or good play. Show some passion for the guys that are playing their hearts out for you.

    Lastly, I blame Phil the most with not putting Lamar Odom in the post. Every game I am yelling at the T.V. Why is Lamar on the wing? You need to let him use his God Given talents. He is faster than most power forwards, and is more effective in the post. Don’t make him create his own shot. Put a couple of more pounds on him, and leave him down there with Kobe and Fish and the wings.

    I have a lot of respect for Phil and I believe he is one of the GREATEST coaches, but he needs to realize that his old tactics and strategies aren’t working. He needs to adjust to the talents and strengths of his players, and to tell you the truth I don’t think the triangle offense is the answer anymore.

    say word…[/quote]

    Interesting thoughts. First off, if your a young and inexperienced team thats down by eight or more, chances are youre not going to be able to pull off a come back anyways, so you might as well let them play and pull through it and figure things out for themselves. And that one loss isnt a big deal, its the regular season it doesnt matter, phil doesnt do this in the post-season when it counts, its better they gain the experience in the regular season and try to fight adversity, instead of bailing them out with a timeout.

    Phil has always been a coach who never really shows emotion during games, but I know one thing for sure is that he prepares his players to the best of their abilities. Phil has 9 titles to back up his coaching methods. Not to diss Avery Johnson, but with that loaded Dallas squad, his emphasis on defense, and his emotions all he has to show for it is a 60 win season and a first round exit to an 8th seeded team. Phil prepares his players to play, its not what you see on the court that matters, its the preparation thats done behind the scenes is what counts. There is no need to question this mans abilities, 9 titles, highest winning percentage, and coached a team to the playoffs, in a competitive western conference, a team that talent wise shouldnt even make the playoffs, let alone even win 40 games. We had a better team when we had Caron, healthy mihm, and Atkins but we didnt even make the playoffs. Dont blame a losing season on Phil its not his fault the players fail to execute, its not Phil and its not the triangle, its the lack of talent. Dont question Phil, he knows what he is doing.

    As far as the Lamar comment. I wonder the same thing too, but have you guys seen Lamar play his entire career? You guys have to realize what type of player Lamar is and hes not the typical PF who plays with his back to the basket. Thats not Lamar, he’s more of a passive guy who plays face up on the dribble type player, you cant expect someone to be someone theyre not, and lamar isnt a post-up player.

    Its easy to place blame. Heck, I can even blame Kobe for not involving and trusting players on offense, which in turn bores players, which kills their effort, which hurts the defense, and causes losses. I can blame Kobe’s lack of leadership, lead by example isnt good enough Kobe, wheres the assists?, and the fact that hes not making players better, lamars ppg are down compared to his clips/heat years, Vlad had career lows, and cooks shooting isnt improving, lukes stats have gone up but not because of kobe hes just playing more min and I can go on and on.

    Its possible to blame anyone, but theres is only ONE valid thing we can blame and thats the front office. Its the lack of talent thats making us lose, you can only do so much with what you have and in the Lakers we dont have much. That spurt when we were 26-13, that was a favorable schedule, look back at it, we had more home games than away games and the competition wasnt all that good. Lets face it were a 0.500 team, with this talent, the only reason we stand a chance against the best is cause Kobe has the ability to single handedly win games, but theres no way one man can win a seven game series by himself. We need more talent, Kobe knows that, with Bynum things can look up, but im not counting on a man who doesnt seem to have the heart to play and whines because he doesnt start or get minutes. We just have to see what happens this year.

  • keep24

    Phil Jackson is the perfect coach for team USA. He is an
    All-Star team coach, and not a Smush Parker/ Kwame Brown/ Lamar Odom / Farmar team coach.

    This is a fact and not just one man’s opinion. Coach K would have been the perfect coach for this team 3 years ago.

    This team needs to be coached – and Phil has no desire to coach. Phil and Shaq think that the season begins when the playoffs start and as we all know, that’s not the case.

    KEEP KOBE AT ALL COST: JUST LOOK AT THE KID PLAY ON TEAM USA.