In response to Phil Jackson's most recent comment made to the LA Times (originally found here) concerning his feelings towards New Orleans, I felt it necessary to dedicate an entire article to informing people about how much New Orleanians should truly despise the Lakers' head coach. I wrote an article on HoopDat back in late December about Jackson, attempting to describe just how heartless his comments make him seem. Below is a re-posting of sorts, along with some editing based on recent events. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Let me just start by saying that I know Phil Jackson has had a difficult, tumultuous career. It’s not easy spending your entire playing days in front of a jam-packed Madison Square Garden in New York City, followed by coaching two of the greatest teams ever assembled in two of the NBA’s largest markets, Chicago and Los Angeles. It’s tough when you always have a superstar running the show, and you don’t have to do as much coaching as your peers in order to succeed. Phil Jackson has had it tough and he should be credited for sticking through it all of these years, so when he makes comments about how he "doesn’t know if New Orleans can support an NBA team" and claims that "it hasn’t been successful supporting a team up until now", we should probably just let it slide, right?
Give me a break. This guy has had it made ever since he entered the NBA as a player. He cruised through his playing career as a second-string player for the New York Knicks throughout the late 60′s and most of the 70′s, eventually parlaying his "basketball prowess" into an assisting coaching gig with the Chicago Bulls in 1987. Two years later, he replaced Doug Collins (a current coach of the year candidate with Philadelphia) as head coach, and never looked back. I’m not saying the guy doesn’t know basketball; the man obviously has a great basketball mind. That being said, coaching a Michael Jordan-run team doesn’t exactly seem like the most stressful job in the world. In 1998, Jackson was let go from the Bulls despite all of his team’s success because of his alleged poor treatment of his assistant coaches and his problematic ego. After not being asked to return, he vowed never to coach again in the NBA, claiming that his career was over.
…Until he was spoonfed his next pair of superstars. One year later, he took the Los Angeles Lakers’ head coaching job, moving from an MJ-led team to a Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal-led squad. Man, this guy has had it rough, how did he get by? Going from a team with the greatest player of all time to arguably two of the top 15 players of all time must have been such a hard transition for him. Anyway, he’s been there ever since, and after the Kobe/Shaq schism sent Shaq out of LA, his front office eventually worked out a deal that spoonfed the team Pau Gasol, one of the best forwards in the league. Phil Jackson has benefitted from working under two great basketball minds as GMs – Jerry Krause in Chicago and Mitch Kupchak in Los Angeles – who built fantastic teams in two HUGE markets for him to coach.
The reason I give a synopsis of his NBA career is because over the years, Jackson has apparently decided that his championship rings have earned himself the right to address issues which he has no business discussing. Whether it be about Arizona immigration laws, a comparison of an opposing coach to Adolf Hitler, or simply the state of the Hornets in New Orleans, Jackson continues to overstep his boundaries as a head coach. Before he talked about New Orleans in particular, he mentioned his concerns with the NBA running the Hornets and who would be calling the shots for their personnel decisions. I respect his concern with that topic because the league’s ownership of the Hornets directly affects his team, and he has a right to be concerned just like the other 28 teams in the NBA. What he doesn't have the right to talk about, however, is CP3's future (he makes it sound like Paul wanting to leave is a certainty) and much more importantly, whether the Hornets should or should not stay in New Orleans. The worst part is, unsurprisingly enough, this is not the first time Jackson has done so. He has repeatedly denounced the city of New Orleans, often times for completely non-basketball related reasons, and I am tired of it.
So Phil, the next time you think it "smells better elsewhere," just know what we here in New Orleans think – the only time that "mildew smell" shows up around here is when you’re contaminating our city. Don’t worry though, at least we have "drained the mud out of the building," but unfortunately, we do still have a problem with termites from time to time… whenever the Lakers and their head coach come to town.