Besides the fact that the Lakers are trying to repeat as NBA Champions, which is extremely difficult, they are also dealing with a number of questions hanging over the organization. While everyone assumes that Kobe Bryant will be back in L.A. it is still not a given as he can become a free agent in 2010 like some of the other top NBA stars. In fact, Bryant’s future in Los Angeles may depend on the success of the team this season. If I had to guess, I would say that Kobe will be back in Los Angeles. There are just too many factors that keep me from thinking that he’ll leave. However, I can’t say the same thing about the future of Phil Jackson in L.A. If you listen to this interview, you can see that Jackson has yet to make up his mind on his future in Los Angeles. The Lakers right now are the team to beat in the Western Conference and are one of the favorites to win it all in the NBA. However, if they fall short of that, Los Angeles may be looking for a new Head Coach.
Phil Jackson joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about Kobe Bryant’s future in Los Angeles, his own future with the Lakers, and why it is so difficult to repeat in the NBA.
On why he wouldn’t coach next year if he makes that choice:
“There’s a variety of reasons. One, just wearing out the welcome so to speak. Wearing out your message on players and the effect that you’ve been in place for a long period of time and player’s generally get immune to it. (Host: How do you gauge that?) You just watch how the emphasis on what you put into practice and what you put into scheme. Most of that is done in the playoffs. We seed up everything pretty much through the course of the year, but when the playoffs come its juts another level. You go up to a whole different level of play. Fortunately we have play that gets us through the season and we have play that we wanna work on in the playoffs. When you can hone in on an opponent in seven games, that’s where execution and discipline takes place.”
On when he will decide on his future:
“Oh that would be at the end of the year. Obviously the success or failure of the team is related to that.”
If you’re not in the Finals are you coming back next year?
“I consider that not a successful season if we’re not in the Finals. If were in the Finals, we have a shot at it. That’s the big thing. Get there and have a chance.”
On whether or not he thinks Kobe will finish his career with the Lakers:
“I have no idea. I haven’t really talked with Kobe. I just understand the odds are always better for a guy to stay where he’s at. Especially if they’re successful and they’ve had a good run when they’ve played. The odds are always great for players to stay home.”
On whether or not he would coach for Michael Jordan:
“I can’t see myself picking up and leaving to go back to the East.”
On why it is so difficult to repeat in the NBA:
“The wear and tear of an 82 game season is multiplied by anywhere from 18-28 games. Those games are like twice the effort that you put into other games. Those players play longer minutes and there’s injuries that always happen in the playoffs that players have to play through. The ones you can’t play through in the regular season. It’s too excruciating, it’s too dangerous, but you play through it in the playoffs. Those things exacerbate the physical wear and tear. Then there’s the thing of team’s come apart. Their personalities get worn out on each other and lose contact with the coaches. We looked at the Detroit team that looked really good and came together really quickly in ’05 and was never able to repeat. That’s something that you thought wow, this team may have a chance two or three times. They were young and it just didn’t happen for them. A variety of things happened. Coach Brown left after he didn’t repeat the next year and then they lost Ben Wallace and so forth. That’s a prime example of something happening to teams that are good. San Antonio has never been able to repeat. This is a well-coached team and they have kept their unit together, but I think it’s been little things. A knee injury one year kept them from repeating immediately. Then (David) Robinson retired and a variety of things kept them from repeating.”
On the teams in the West that he is impressed with:
“We’re impressed with Dallas. They’re still coming together as a team. Denver, with (Kenyon) Martin back on the floor, Denver has a really potent eight-man group that comes out and plays. They’re a highly volatile team that can run off points quickly. They can also fall into malaise too at times.”
If you’re going to the Finals, are you more than likely coming back next year?
“Good chance of it.”
If you don’t go to the Finals?
“I’d have to think long and hard about it because I think we only have five guys coming back off this roster. There is kind of a real swing effect on this team with players. We have have one guard coming back that’s signed. That’s (Sasha) Vujacic. (Jordan) Farmar, (Derek) Fisher, (Kobe) Bryant and Shannon Brown are all free agents and up for move or resigning.”