In the few short days since the Lakers got swept by the Mavericks, there’s already been a wave of conversation amongst fans and the media about Phil Jackson, his remarkable career, and where he belongs in the all-time pantheon of great coaches. It’s easy to argue that he belongs at the top of the list, but there’s a point to be made as well that he might be a tad bit more overrated than his decorated ring collection might suggest. Here’s the deal though — this conversation is being played out publicly in a pretty tame manner. Wouldn’t it be more fun to hear what an unabashed trained enemy of Jackson has to say about his coaching legacy?
Enter Scot Pollard, a key contributor on the Sacramento Kings during their brief rise to prominence not long ago. Pollard’s game might not have been all that memorable (except for his atrocious free throw shooting), but even if you don’t recall much about his contributions in those classic Kings-Lakers battles, you’ll probably have a quick ‘ah-ha!’ moment if you saw his picture.
In addition to hearing him talk about Jackson, Sacramento residents and fans of the Kings will be pleased to hear Pollard talk about the city he played the most significant years of his NBA career in. He loves the place, and he’s relieved and damn pleased that the Kings weren’t taken away from the passionate residents of Sac-Town.
Pollard joined Grant Napear on KHTK in Sacramento to discuss why he feels Phil Jackson is overrated, on great players needing great coaches and vice versa, what he loves about the city of Sacramento, and his excitement that the Kings will be remaining there for at least another year.
Why he feels Phil Jackson is overrated:
“Oh man. I just think he’s one of the most overrated coaches of our time. He’s only had the greatest players of our era on his teams. Put him in charge of the Sacramento Kings this year, and I don’t mean to offend Sacramento fans, but put him on a team with no Hall-Of-Famers on it at least no one that has established themselves as a Hall-Of-Famer already, put him as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers right now and let’s see how he does next year with no Hall-Of-Famers on the team. That’s all I’m saying. I respect his championships, I respect his ability to get egos in line and get them in the same direction, but I just think he’s overrated because he’s only had the greatest players of our generation. (Host: That’s like saying Joe Montana was an overrated quarterback because he had the best receiver in history to throw to, he had a great offensive line, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, and John Taylor. You can say that about a lot of people that are great.) I have a championship because my teammates and I’m not saying that’s not a valid point. All I’m saying is I would like to see Phil Jackson coach a team that doesn’t belong in the playoffs. I think he could get the Orlando Magic to the playoffs and the Dallas Mavericks to the playoffs. I’m not sure he could get Cleveland to the playoffs next year. Joe Montana was a player, a great player and a Hall-Of-Fame player and you could’ve put me in charge of the San Francisco 49ers when Joe Montana was playing with all those players you were talking about, I might’ve gotten them to the playoffs. I’m not saying I’m a football coach by any means. I just think he is partially a benefactor of circumstance, that’s all I’m getting at. I think if you put him in charge of a team without at least one or two future Hall-Of-Famers on it and I’m not sure he’s going to get you a championship ring. I doubt that.”
On the idea that great coaches need great players and it goes hand-in-hand:
“I agree and he got Ron Artest to buy in. I’m totally on board with his managing of egos. I believe some coaches can make a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers, I love Byron Scott. I really do. I think he’s better than his record indicates. I’m just saying there are certain coaches that can take a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers this year because they had a poor year and can turn them around to a playoff team, maybe not a champion, but a playoff team. There are certain coaches that can do that. All I’m saying is Phil Jackson has never done that. He has never taken a team that wasn’t a playoff team and turned them into a playoff team. The players that played for him turned into a playoff team.”
How excited he is that the Kings will remain in Sacramento for at least one more season
“Absolutely. That’s why when they said hey we’re going to have a rally would you want to come out I said absolutely because Sacramento was my NBA home. It was the place I played the longest by a long shot, a place I loved the most, and the place I was most productive as an NBA player. It’s definitely my NBA home, I would love to be involved with the organization. I’m still working on that. Maybe tomorrow I can rub elbows with the right person and get an excuse to move out to Sacramento. I love that place and I want to be out there, but as you know nobody retires to California. If I get an income then it is possible to deal with the cost of living out in California. You need a job to live there. That’s what I’m looking for. Hopefully that works out, but if not I’m still going to be a big fan of Sacramento. I’m really excited and so proud of the fans and the whole community of Sacramento that really rallied around the Kings organization and really forced the NBA to give us another year to figure this out. Hopefully this works out and hopefully there can be a realistic arena plan put together. There have been rumors of Pollard Pavilion being the name of it. I don’t have 400 million in my pocket, but if somebody wants to name it that anyway I’m not going to say no. I’m not going to request it, but if somebody says we’re going to put all the money up and we just want to use your name I’ll say okay. (Host: As long as you don’t have to pay for naming rights?) Yeah I will put my two dollars in which is pretty much what I have going for me right now. Seriously I’m really excited about the city getting behind this and having another year to get a realistic plan together because the Kings do belong in Sacramento, the NBA needs the Kings in Sacramento, and Sacramento obviously needs the Kings in Sacramento. I just think it’s a great fit for both the city and the league as a whole. I just hope the lockout doesn’t get in the way too much and the businessmen, the politicians, and the city of Sacramento are able to get this done. Guess what Sacramento? It’s up to everybody. As you’ve already shown right now you can make a difference. I’m talking to everybody in this city that’s listening and the politicians as well and the people with the big bucks. We have to figure out a way to get this done, we have a year to do it, and I believe we can.”