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.