Tag Archives: Phil Jackson

Radio J-Dub, Volume 1 – NFL Free Agency and the Phil Jackson Saga

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We here at Dubsism are excited to bring you a new feature, an audio podcast to go along with the series of video podcast we produce.  In the inaugural episode, J-Dub talks about how NFL free agency is like having a girlfriend who is jet-screaming hot, but is also bat-shit crazy. He also puts to rest some misconceptions about the Phil Jackson as president of the New York Knicks saga, and lays out a reason you’ll never get from the dick-tards at ESPN about why a Jackson return to the Los Angeles Lakers is all but impossible.

You can subscribe to and download the podcast here, as well as get information on how to participate live when Radio J-Dub is being recorded live.

The Dubscast, Volume 2: The Los Angeles Lakers Need To Forget About Phil Jackson


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Today’s installment of the Dubscast revolves around how fans of the Los Angeles Lakers need to get off the idea that bringing back Phil Jackson can revive the glory days. The Lakers have three main problems, and J-Dub explores those, and why “The Zen Master” can’t fix any of them.

The Post-Mortem on the Lakers/Phil Jackson Debacle

Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have hired a new coach, we can take an exhaustive look at what really happened in what has become a complete train wreck. The whole situation has become a public relations nightmare, and both sides are only making matters worse by their jockeying for the high ground.  Because of the  blather you hear coming from both sides, it times to sort out a few of the important facts of this affair.

1) Both sides are lying

Despite reports from Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak that Phil Jackson was the only candidate for the Lakers head coaching job, there’s simply no way that is true.  Think about it for a moment.  It was pretty obvious the “Phil Jackson coming is back” train had left the station; Lakers fans were chanting “We Want Phil!” Sunday night, several media outlets made it seem a certainty that Jackson would again be on the Laker sideline.

But Monday morning, it was announced the Lakers had instead hired Mike D’Antoni.

This begs the question, what derailed that train?

Naturally, the answer to that question will vary depending on whom you ask.  The prevailing wisdom is that the Lakers balked at a diva-like list of demands, supposedly including, but not limited to  a stake in ownership, control over personnel decisions, and the ability to not travel to some road games.

Meanwhile, Phil Jackson maintains the Lakers manipulated the press and bailed on a handshake deal allowing Jackson until Monday to decide whether or not to finalize negotiations.

There’s some truth and some bullshit in both those statements. Here’s how we know:

The Lakers are obviously lying when they say Jackson was their only candidate.  Face it, the Busses and general manager Mitch Kupchak aren’t dumb guys; they would have never made the move to fire Mike Brown unless they had a plan. Plan A was obviously Phil Jackson, and when Plan A proved to be either unworkable for whatever reason, they went to Plan B, which was Mike D’Antonio. The timeline makes it pretty clear that D’Antoni was always on the radar as Plan B.

Think about it. In order to have a deal done so quickly, there had to be stuff already on paper. The Lakers announced D’Antoni had signed a deal on Monday.  This means before the weekend, they Lakers had at least drafts of contracts drawn up, so that with minor negotiations and changes, a final ducument could be signed and made ready for the legalities come Monday morning. In order to do that, they likely had to be at least a cursory conversation about terms.

Just in case they were wrong, the Lakers likely had more than just Plan B up their collective sleeves. I’d be willing to bet you a signifcant amount of cash that going into the weekend, the Busses and Kupchak had several ready-to-close deals on paper in the wall safe. The names on them could have ranged from the exceptional unlikely (Mike Krzyzewski), to the familiar (Brain Shaw and/or Kurt Rambis), to the ill-fitinng (Jerry Sloan), and obviously Phil Jackson and Mike D’Antoni.

Naturally, in any situation like this, there are going to be alternate versions of the story.

Phil Jackson is no different, as he paints a picture  for Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times suggesting the Lakers manipulated the press and reneged on a handshake agreement that they would give Jackson until the following Monday to decide whether or not to move forward in negotiations.

“Saturday morning, [Lakers executive] Jim Buss called to ask if he could come and visit. I didn’t solicit or ask for the opportunity but I welcomed both him and [team executive] Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as head coach,” Jackson said.

“We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday [today] to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who encouraged my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.” […]

Jackson’s agent, Todd Musburger, added that media coverage portraying Jackson as being full of demands was inaccurate.

Jackson clearly sent Musburger out on a PR campaign, as he also spoke to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. During that interview, Musburger made several comments about how “Jackson deserves better treatment,” basically for all that he’s done over the years for the Lakers.

Since we now have varying versions of the story, it should come as no surprise that there’s a bit more to it.

Howard Beck of the New York Times said that sources inside and outside of the team claim that Jackson never made specific demands and that he ultimately wanted the job.

Meanwhile, long-time Laker player and former Jackson assistant Kurt Rambis told Sam Amick of USA Today that money was never discussed.  Rambis was in a position to know this because he was slated to re-join the Lakers as Jackson’s assistant once again (remember this fact, it’s important later on).

Lastly, Ric Bucher of CSNBayArea.com reported that the idea that the Lakers’ job was Jackson’s to take was false largely  because negotiations hadn’t reached that point.

When you boil it all down to gravy, we all find ourselves stuck in the middle of a “he said, he said” situation, with Jackson, the Lakers, and various representatives engaged in PR campaigns to swing opinions their way.  This also means the truth is nestled somewhere in the part of the Venn Diagram where all the stories intersect, which means  both the Lakers and Jackson aren’t telling the whole truth. That’s standard operating procedure in a PR war like this.  But who’s the bigger liar? The next section helps explain that…

2) What really blew this thing up?

While the Lakers are one the biggest sports franchises on the face of the planet, they are also a family business. Under more than 30 years of Jerry Buss’ ownership, his son Jim has become the team’s executive vice-president.  Jerry’s daughter Jeanie carries a similar title.  However, Jeanie Buss also happens to be Phil Jackson’s long-time girlfriend…which makes him a de facto son-in-law in the family business, regardless of whether or not he is the coach as well.

That is important for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that there had to be more at stake than a third stint coaching the Lakers.

So, let’s go back to what we know so we can piece this thing together.

A) The Lakers met with Jackson, and during that meeting they didn’t reach an agreement.

B) The Lakers met with D’Antoni, and during that meeting they did reach an agreement.

C) This isn’t the first time the Lakers and Phil Jackson have sqaubbled. We saw this two years ago over the terms of Jackson’s second departure from the team.

It seems pretty clear the Lakers hoped to make a quick decision on their next coach.  Given the history with Jackson, it seems unlikely that they would have held a 90-minute meeting with Jackson without discussing any terms that might have ended up in a contract.  It also seems unlikely that Jackson would not have presented some demands of his own; he’s done it before.

Taking all of that into account, the best suspect for de-railing the fast-track process was something that Jackson wanted; something that wasn’t money, because the rumor was the Lakers were ready to go as strong as $10 million per year.

According to the Los Angeles Times, D’Antoni became the choice because in spite of what was reported in the New York Times, Jackson did in fact have an exorbitant list of demands, including a stake in team ownership.

In other words, this was a power play on Jackson’s part, and it backfired on him.  Jackson heard those “We Want Phil” chants in the Staples Center and it never occurred to him that the Busses and Mitch Kupchak would call “shenanigans” on him.

Well, needless to say they did, and here’s why:

Jackson’s major miscalculation came in the fact he forgot he was dealing with a family business.

With the holiday coming, let’s make a Thanksgiving analogy.  Phil wanted both drumsticks, but he forgot he isn’t even sitting at the “big” table.  First off all, this is Jerry Buss’ house, and it’s his fucking turkey.  He sits at the head of the table; Phil’s jewelry store full of rings doesn’t mean shit.  Jerry’s children, Jim and Jeanie, take up two seats at the “big” because they are blood, and because they are executive  VPs of the team.  Mitch Kupchak gets the fourth seat,  since while he isn’t blood, he is to the Buss family as Tom Hagen was to the Corleones from The Godfather.  Kupchak has been a valued member of the Laker family for over thirty years.

Let’s go back to Phil’s status as the de facto son-in-law. That’s a nice way of saying that he is while saying but he isn’t officially because he’s never bothered to marry his longtime  girlfriend Jeanie Buss.  Most families have a special purgatory for that guy who shacks up with the daughter but doesn’t marry her. All the other sons-in-law get real gifts at Christmas while “Mr. Shack-Up” gets a gift card from Wal-Mart.  This also means “Mr. Shack-Up” isn’t getting a drumstick, and he sure as shit isn’t going to be eating off a non-folding table anytime soon.

Phil may have eleven rings, but he’s yet to get the one that gets him a seat at the”big” table

Jackson also miscalculated in his assumption that Kobe Bryant would only accept Jackson as the coach. While Bryant may have preferred Jackson, he also has a history with D’Antoni going all the way back  to his childhood and across several years of USA Basketball.

In other words, Phil Jackson seriously overplayed his hand.  He thought this job was his for the taking, so much so that he cancelled an appearance as keynote speaker one day before Mike Brown was fired.  He thought he could bluff Jerry Buss, and he was wrong.

But what this also means is there’s really no denying that the Lakers had been in talks with Jackson (and probably D’Antoni) as well before the Brown firing became official. While the Lakers are not telling the truth about Jackson “being the only candidate,” that pales in comparison to the crap-fest Jackson is spreading.  Let’s face it, Phil ultimately cares more about his position in all of this, and he clearly does not want to be seen as a guy who just got bare-ass spanked in front of the entire basketball world.

What it all comes down to is great coaches and great players ultimately can’t “big time” the guy who signs the paychecks.

3) This was never about basketball, this was about Phil Jackson screwing yet another Buss

That last sentence begs several questions, not the least of which is why would Jackson want to dick over the Lakers?  To answer that, I’ve got to ask another  question.  I really can’t answer exactly what was the significance of the Monday deadline Jackson is bitching about.  Nobody is saying that it involved time limit on a specific offer, but if Jackson had expressed a desire to move forward with the negotiations, that clearly would have happened.

Even thought this process was on the fast track, it still didn’t go down the way usual negotiations do. That begs the question why was Phil Jackson so interested in playing hardball with the LAkers? In other words, this wasn’t about money, and it wasn’t about basketball…so, what was this really all about?

I think Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski has the right idea. He wrote that he thought this was all about Jackson trying to screw Jim Buss.

Jackson wanted to humiliate Lakers vice president Jim Buss far more than he wanted to coach the team. He wanted significant allowances on travel, coaching duties and an ability to veto player personnel moves that didn’t fit his vision. With an unprecedented 11 coaching championships, Jackson had every right to make unprecedented demands. He doesn’t have the right to be surprised when the Lakers rejected them and hired a pliable, cheaper coach in Mike D’Antoni.

“Phil wanted Jim Buss to walk away with his tail between his legs,” one source with knowledge of the discussions told Yahoo! Sports. “He thought he had time to still negotiate with them, and see how much they would give him.”

Now, the Lakers are going out of their way to spare Jackson the embarrassment of his overreaching, but this is pointless spin. They’re working with him to sell the public that he hadn’t asked for too much, that somehow the franchise chose D’Antoni over Jackson on sheer merit. It’s noble, but laughable.  before circling back to him on Monday.

“Phil’s assistants convinced him that they had his back on the concerns [Jackson] had about his load as head coach, and he was ready to get a deal done on Monday,” a source with knowledge of the talks said. “But this was about Jim Buss giving him a royal you-know-what in the end.”

4) What if Mike D’Antoni was the better option to start with?

Obviously, there’s been a bit of tension between the Lakers and Jackson.  Right off the bat, you can’t blame the Busses and Kupchak for not wanting a third helping of that shit.

On top of that, nobody seems to want to remember that Jackson has this nasty habit of taking a powder once the team he is coaching isn’t championship worthy anymore.  That makes me wonder, does this whole affair mean that Jackson thinks the Lakers can win another NBA title? If that’s true,  then why not give the job to another coach who has been accused of simply handing the ball to an all-star lineup, and one who won’t be a monstrous pain in the ass?

Enter Mike D’Antoni.

This is why I wasn’t really that surprised when the Lakers announced they had hired D’Antoni.  Face it, offensively, there isn’t many guys who are a better fit for the Lakers than D’Antoni.  Ball Don’t Lie expanded on this thought most accurately, but they do require a bit of a breakdown.

The most persistent and prominent of the criticisms lobbed at Phil Jackson over his coaching career was the idea that he merely rolled the ball out to his superstars and took unending credit for their eventual and expected winning ways. That he was the luckiest guy on earth, coaching all those greats, and that his triangle offense didn’t even run any plays!

Well, the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t hired Phil Jackson for a third time. Instead, they’re going with former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times. D’Antoni, like Jackson, has been criticized for merely rolling the ball out and letting the highly paid stars do the work. Still, in the wake of Mike Brown‘s unsuccessful 71-game tenure as Lakers coach, isn’t it pretty clear that this is exactly what the Lakers need? For someone to, as Kobe Bryant put it less than delicately but completely accurately on Sunday night, to “get the [expletive] out of the way”?

This wasn’t always the best remedy, not in Jackson’s frustrating final year with the Lakers in 2011 and Brown’s run to the second round of the playoffs last season. The Lakers needed guidance with that roster, and too often (yes, even under Jackson) the voices coming from the bench weren’t strong enough to bend that instinct. With a healthier Bryant alongside new additions Dwight Howard and Steve Nash and the hoped-for return to prominence of Pau Gasol, the less-is-more ethos might be a perfect fit.  And, luckily for Lakers ownership, D’Antoni is willing to work for far less than Jackson’s more-more-more.

The part BDL doesn’t quite hit in this defense of the “less is more” approach is the fact that success for the Lakers has a not-quite traditional definition.  keep that in mind as we continue through this.

Mike’s drawbacks have been detailed, to some length, since his 2004-05 Phoenix Suns shocked the NBA while running (literally) to the league’s best record. D’Antoni’s Suns teams are routinely mediocre on defense — per-possession stats consistently rank the squad in the middle of the pack defensively, a fact that is stretched to the point of absurdity by those who still look at raw points scored and given up a way of determining defensive and offensive value. D’Antoni’s last team in New York was ranked 10th in defense before he and the organization decided to part ways, and their immediate upshot to the higher echelon (as in, “the Knicks turned into the best defensive team in the NBA for a while”) on that end can also be argued away with the fact that his departure coincided with possible league-worst defensive big man Amar’e Stoudemire going down with injury, and the fact that the Knicks clearly played harder out of possible spite once Mike went away.

The offensive drawbacks? Under both GMs Bryan Colangelo and Steve Kerr in Phoenix, D’Antoni’s teams were flush with outside shooters that would sometimes leave Steve Nash as the only guy in the lane in both transition and the half-court. The Lakers have shooters from the outside, but not necessarily “makers.” Comparing Howard’s work in the middle to latter-period Shaquille O’Neal probably isn’t the easiest sell, but it should be noted that Gasol’s best work is done in the low post in ways that resemble your typical low-post plodder (even if Gasol ends the possession with a perfectly timed dish or deft score). Nash and Bryant have barely played together, thus far, and D’Antoni’s biggest asset (his offensive gifts) was probably what the Lakers needed least right now.

We’ve all heard the bleating about how the Lakers needed to get better defensively, and that the offense “will sort itself out.”  Lakers’ fans world-wide should have figured out that upgrading the defense wasn’t going to happen (at least not right away) when they signed Steve Nash. Face it every deal the Lakers have pulled off in the last year – the Nash singing, the aborted Chris Paul trade – were about getting to be even more of a perimeter team.  Even the Dwight Howard deal, while netting the Lakers a “big,” can’t really be called a defensive improvement even though Howard  is a former defensive player of the year, because we really don’t know how healed his back is.

Phil Jackson can’t reverse time, so this was never going to happen.

Let’s face it, the Mike Brown Lakers sucked on defense as well, largely because they are either soft (Gasol and the entire bench except Josh McRoberts) or old (Bryant, pre-release Derek Fisher, Metta World Artest…you get the point).  Signing Steve Nash and an ouching Dwight Howard was never going to fix that, and I never understood how a third plate from the Phil Jackson buffet was going to fix that either.  After all, they didn’t call his signature formation the “Triangle Defense, did they?

To be even more honest, this team is built for offense, so why not run with an offensive-minded coach? The idea that the offense would “sort itself out” never held water with me.  In fact, the offense needs quite a bit of guidance, not the least of which is that Nash and Bryant have to learn to live together on a team that may not have enough balls for everybody. If D’Antoni can manage that with Carmelo Anthony, A’mare Stoudamire, and/or the brief “Linsanity” period, he can manage it in Los Angeles.

So, the Lakers as-is with D’Antoni will win 60-plus games. They won’t win a championship, but that’s fine. See, Laker fans have short memories, and they want wins. 65 regular season wins are just fine, because once in the play-offs, Laker fans go to sleep until the conference finals.  This is how the era between Pat Riley and the first reign of King Phil (except for the early 90’s) largely went.

The bottom line for Laker fans is this. The best years of Kobe Bryant’s career are behind him, Steve Nash is little more than a retirement tour waiting to happen, and as great as Dwight Howard may be, big men have this tendency to break down once they start getting hurt.

Phil Jackson was never going to fix that, and that’s the biggest fact of them all.

Fourteen Curious All-Time Basketball Teams For Your Consideration

Everybody loves to put together lists of useless stuff, and certainly we here at Dubsism are no exception. This collection sprung from some holiday conversation revolving around which schools could really put together the best all-time team.  See, the catalyst for all of this is there are Kansas fans in this group, and we all know the Dubsism position on Jayhawk basketball.

For comparative purposes, this led to a listing of possible “All-Time” teams from the schools which have won 3 or more NCAA championships. This gave us an odd number, so we added the team with the most wins which was not on that list (Syracuse). Then to make it really interesting, we added teams comprised of some miscellaneous categories.

Peruse the list and let us know what you think.  Just remember, this is a true “All-Time” list, not the kind that ESPN does which only means the last 25 years or so.  Many of you born after 1985 may very well have never heard of some of these players. If you find yourself in that position, do yourself a favor and do some research. After all, somebody has to teach the children about George Mikan.

George Mikan - The Blake Griffin of the 1950's

1) UCLA

Starters

  • C – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • F – Kiki Vandeweghe
  • F – Jamaal Wilkes
  • G – Reggie Miller
  • G –  Gail Goodrich

Bench

  • Bill Walton
  • Baron Davis
  • Marques Johnson

Coach

  • John Wooden

2) Kentucky

Starters

  • C – Sam Bowie
  • C/F – Dan Issel
  • F – Antoine Walker
  • F/G – Cliff Hagan
  • G – Rex Chapman

Bench

  • Jamal Mashburn
  • Rajon Rondo
  • Tayshaun Prince

Coach

  • Adolph Rupp

3) Indiana

Starters

  • C – Walt Bellamy
  • F – George McGinnis
  • F – Calbert Cheaney
  • G – Isaiah Thomas
  • G – Dick Van Arsdale

Bench

  • Tom Van Arsdale
  • Mike Woodson
  • Kent Benson

Coach

  • Bobby Knight

4) North Carolina

Starters

  • C/F – Bob McAdoo
  • F- James Worthy
  • F/G – Vince Carter
  • G – Michael Jordan
  • G – Walter Davis

Bench

  • Jerry Stackhouse
  • Billy Cunningham
  • Rasheed Wallace

Coach

  • Dean Smith

5) Duke

Starters

  • C – Mike Gminski
  • F – Christian Laettner
  • F – Elton Brand
  • G – Grant Hill
  • G – Jeff Mullins

Bench

  • Corey Maggette
  • Jack Marin
  • Carlos Boozer

Coach

  • Mike Kryzewzki
6) Connecticut

Starters

  • C/F – Emeka Okafor
  • F – Clifford Robinson
  • F – Caron Butler
  • F/G – Richard Hamilton
  • G – Ray Allen

Bench

  • Donyell Marshall
  • Caron Butler
  • Rudy Gay

Coach

  • Jim Calhoun

7) Kansas

Starters

  • C- Wilt Chamberlain
  • F- Clyde Lovelette
  • F- Danny Manning
  • F/G – Paul Pierce
  • G – Jo Jo White

Bench

  • Dave Robisch
  • Kirk Hinrich
  • Bill Bridges

Coach

  • Phog Allen

8 ) Syracuse

Starters

  • C- Rony Seikaly
  • F- Carmelo Anthony
  • F – Derrick Coleman
  • G – Dave Bing
  • G – Sherman Douglas

Bench

  • Danny Schayes
  • Billy Owens
  • Hakim Warrick

Coach

  • Jim Boeheim

9) The “All Never Went To College” Team

Starters

  • C – Moses Malone
  • F – Kevin Garnett
  • F – LeBron James
  • G – Kobe Bryant
  • G – Monta Ellis

Bench

  • Darryl Dawkins
  • Tyson Chandler
  • A’mare Stoudamire

Coach

  • Lawrence Frank (who never played high school, college, or pro basketball)

10) The “All Small School” Team

Starters

  • C – Bill Russell (San Francisco)
  • F – Karl Malone (Louisiana Tech)
  • F – Larry Bird (Indiana State)
  • G – John Stockton (Gonzaga)
  • G – Bob Cousy (Holy Cross)

Bench

  • David Robinson (Navy)
  • George Mikan (DePaul)
  • Walt Frazier (Southern Illinois)

Player/Coach

From North Dakota to New York...Pure Zen.

  • Phil Jackson (University of North Dakota)

11) The “All Europe” Team 

Starters

  • C – Arvydas Sabonis
  • C/F – Vlade Divac
  • F – Dirk Nowitzki
  • G – Peja Stojakavic
  • G – Drazen Petrovic

Bench

  • Andrei Kirilenko
  • Pau Gasol
  • Toni Kukoc

Coach

  • Borislav Stankovic

12) The All “Non-North America or Europe” Team

Starters

  • C – Yao Ming
  • C/F – Hakeem Alajuwon
  • F – Andrew Bogut
  • F – Serge Ibaka
  • G – Manu Ginobili

Bench

  • Dikembe Mutombo
  • Manute Bol
  • Anderson Varejao

Coach

  • Togo Renan Soares

 13) The “All Didn’t Make Any Other Lists” Team

Starters

  • C – Patrick Ewing
  • F- Julius Erving
  • F – Charles Barkley
  • G – Pete Maravich
  • G – Reggie Miller

Bench

  • George Gervin
  • Dominique Wilkins
  • Nate Thurmond

Coach

  • Lenny Wilkens

14) The “Overall #1 Draft Picks” Team

Starters

  • C  –  Shaquille O’Neal
  • C/F  – Tim Duncan
  • F  –  Chris Webber
  • G –  Oscar Robertson
  • G – Magic Johnson

Bench

  • Elgin Baylor
  • Bob Lanier
  • Allen Iverson

Coach

  • Doug Collins

We only included three bench players so that we would have plenty of room to add guys which you are sure to point out that we overlooked. Hell, if you feel so inclined, add a team all your own.

Open Letter to Los Angeles Laker Fans – Don’t Lose Sight of the 20 Guys You Should Really Hate

When one talks of “flagship franchise,” it is hard to discuss the National Basketball Association without mentioning the Los Angeles Lakers in that capacity. The Lakers were the first dynasty in the history of the league, stemming all the way back to their original home from which the team name came; the City of Lakes, Minneapolis. All the way back to that era of dominance in the 1950’s through Sunday night, the Lakers have one of the greatest winning traditions in all professional sports. Even just limiting the look back to the last three decades, the Lakers have won 10 championships; which is the most of any team in any of the “Big 4″ North American sports leagues.

In all that time, this franchise has been affiliated with a litany of names which rank in basketball immortality…George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Vern Mikkelsen, John Kundla, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Jamaal Wilkes, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pat Riley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Phil Jackson. All those men carved their initials into the championship traditions which live in Laker land, but along with those who are revered, there are those who are reviled.

The trouble is that after the worst defeat that any Laker fan had ever seen, the “reviled” list may now include a few guys who were wearing the purple and gold last night. I’ve been a Laker fan my whole life; my father has a picture in his house with his name on the scoreboard at the old Forum. But if you listened to sports radio in the Southland on Monday, you would think Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum wore turbans and had “bin Laden” somewhere in their names.  I’m not here to defend either of those guys; rather I’m here to remind Laker fans that the vitriol for the guys who have found ways to stop Los Angeles from winning should be reserved for those wearing the other team’s colors. To that end, here’s 20 examples of guys more worthy of your ire…if you need to hate on a former Laker, they are noted in purple.

20) Dennis Rodman

Rodman isn’t the only example on this list who wore a Laker uniform at one point, but there are far more reasons for Laker fans to hate him beyond his cameo in purple and gold in 1999. Before all of the tattoos, the multi-colored hair styles, and the wedding dress, Dennis Rodman was a key member of the very same “Bad Boy” Pistons who stole the NBA Title from the Lakers in 1989. Then, he joined forces with the then-hated Phil Jackson and still-hated Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to dominate the league from 1995-1998. Then comes 1999,  where Rodman proved more of a hindrance than a help to the Lakers.

19) Sam Jones

NBA fans under the age of 60 may not remember Sam Jones, but true basketball historians can’t forget him.  Jones is the second greatest team winner in professional sports history behind fellow Boston Celtic Bill Russell; in his career, Jones won 10 NBA titles.  The Lakers claimed Jones back in their days in the North Star state, but Jones went back to school and ended up in that disgusting Celtic green. Jones ended up as one of the premier shooting guards of his era, but to Laker fans he is best known for Game 7 of the 1962 NBA Finals. In this case, Jones fouled Elgin Baylor away from what would have been a  game-winning tip-in, but the clear foul was not called. Jones went on to be a thorn in the Laker’s side for nearly another decade.

18) Ralph Sampson

The single highlight of the 7’4″ Sampson’s career was the incredible shot he hit to knock the Lakers out of the 1986 Western Conference Finals. What could have been a third consecutive year of having L.A. and Boston in the Finals was derailed by a guy who never hit a meaningful shot again.

17) John Havlicek

Yet another Celtic on this list, Havlicek was one of the best all-around players in NBA history. More importantly, as a member of the hated Green, he won eight championships, five of which came at the expense of the Lakers.

16) Don Nelson

Many people forget about Don Nelson and his role in defeating  Laker teams, including the ones he played on from 1963-1965, which is hard to imagine considering he a) also played for the Celtics and b) coached every single team in the NBA except  the Lakers, and at least 40 or 50 in Europe. He hit a bunch free throws for the Celtics sealing the 1968 NBA Finals, and the next year he hit a game-winning jumper that sealed the 11th career NBA championship for teammate Bill Russell. Not to mention, Nelson-coached teams just pissed me off; with that bullshit “Nellie-Ball, up-tempo, what’s defense?” style.

15) Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen will forever be known as the Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman. Perhaps the greatest wing defender of all time, Pippen’s versatility proved to be the perfect compliment for Jordan.  Yet, it was his play with the Portland Trailblazers that really pisses off Laker’s fans. Known for his dirty play, Pippen nearly helped Portland pull off a huge upset in the 2000 Western Conference Finals, and when the Trail Blazers lost to the Lakers, Pippen acted a lot like Andrew Bynum except without the bush-league foul.

14) Willis Reed

Everybody loves to trot out that 1970 Championship game where the ambulance dropped Reed at mid-court and he single-handedly willed the Knicks to beat the Lakers, cure cancer, and cause a warp in the space-time continuum ensuring the sorry-ass Knicks would always relevant.  Lakers fans love to remember the dominant 1971-1972 team which won a record 33 consecutive games, but the Reed-led Knicks won two out of three Finals series against the Lakers between 1970 and 1973.

13) Paul Pierce

For a guy who grew up in the shadow of the old Forum, playing against the Lakers seems to bring out the best in Pierce.; his 26.0 ppg career average against Los Angeles is his highest against any team. Then there is the “wheelchair incident” from the 2008 Finals, where he faked an injury to have his own “Willis Reed” moment and put the momentum back on the Celtics’ side en route to a Finals MVP performance.

12) Isaiah Thomas

God, I hate this little cocksucker. At least history has shown him to be a complete piece of shit, so I’m validated.  As the leader of all those “burn-in-hell” Pistons teams of the late ’80’s, its bad enough he pulled that record 25 point performance in the third quarter of Game 6 of the 1988 Finals against the Lakers despite playing on a severely sprained ankle. The following year, Thomas helped lead Detroit to a four-game sweep over an injury-depleted Laker squad, then celebrated on-court as if he had just single-handedly made the entire city of Detroit NOT a third-world shithole.

11) Tim Duncan

Duncan bored that whale to sleep, then scored 25 on it.

The old Roberta Flack song “Killing Me Softly” should be about Tim Duncan. Known as the “The Big Fundamental,” Duncan is one of the best bigs in the history of the game, but watching him play is like watching concrete harden.  Unfortunately for Lakers fans, his reign came during the Lakers dynasty years led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, and on more than on occasion he hardened that concrete around the feet of the Lakers and sank them (see 1999 and 2003).

10) Ray Allen

Allen is the best long-range shooter in NBA history, and he has pumped more than one sniper round into the Lakers. In Game 2 of last year’s Finals against LA, he hit a record eight three-pointers. However, Laker fans will  always relish his 0-13 debacle a few days later in Game 3. Depsite that, Allen was clutch in Boston’s win over the Lakers in 2008.

9) Kevin Garnett

Similar to the other members of the Celtics on this enemies list, Garnett is know to Laker fans for one distinguishing trait. In Garnett’s case, he is so good at setting a moving screen he should be a pulling guard in the NFL. He also doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves for being a cheap-shot artist.

8 ) Bill Russell

Do you see the pattern developing here…another asshole in Celtic green. He got a pass for all the racist bullshit he had to endure in Boston, but Russell was as mean and arrogant as any player the NBA has seen (nobody ever talks about how many fights he started). All in all, as arguably the greatest player of all-time, and certainly the best rebounder and shot blocker of all-time, Russell emerged victorious over the Lakers seven times without a loss.

7) Bill Laimbeer

Here’s a guy who embodied what was wrong with those cheap-ass, punk-bitch Pistons teams of the 80’s. Laimbeer holds a special place in the hearts Lakers fans…actually, he was despised everywhere except Detroit. The Laimbeer model was to absolutely shit-hammer defenseless players, then flop like a soccer player as the slightest breeze.

6) Chauncey Billups

For some reason, Billups is a player that seems to play his best against the Lakers. One shouldn’t be surprised as he started his career with the Boston Celtics. Yet, it was 2004 as a Detroit Piston which earned his place on this list. Billups put up a performance for the ages when he led Detroit to a championship by averaging 21 points per game while shooting 51% from the floor, 47% from 3-point land, and 93% from the stripe.

5) Walt Frazier

Willis Reed’s comeback in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals totally overshadowed Walt Frazier being the MVP of that game. In securing the big win for the Knicks, Frazier poured in 36 points and 19 assists against the Lakers. Then for good measure, he reprised that role in the 1973 Finals win against LA.

4) Karl Malone

Malone was known for years as being a dirty player, throwing elbows and setting hard picks. Along the way, Malone proved himself as the greatest scoring power forward in NBA history.  In 1997 and 1998, Malone’s dominant play helped bounce the Lakers from the playoffs.  For years, the Lakers wanted to lure Malone to Los Angeles. But, he stayed in Utah until he could finally be a broken down old wreck as a Laker.

3) Michael Jordan

“The greatest player of all time.” That completely fraudulent statement is reason enough alone to hate MJ; but that rant is for another time. There’s no denying he had his moments of dominance against the Lakers; in the 1991 NBA Finals, MJ averaged 31.2 points per game, 11.4 assists, and 2.8 steals, while shooting 56% percent from the field.

2) Larry Bird

Note the blood on Bird's uniform...it ain't his.

The Bottom Line: The greatest player to wear the evil Celtic green during that Magic-Bird rivalry era in the 80’s has to be on the list, and high on it at that. As a leader of the Celtics, Bird represents everything a Lakers fan hates.

1) Kevin McHale

For the longest time, I wanted Kevin McHale dead. And not just dead; I wanted to drink beer out of his hollowed-out skull and piss on what was left of him. But his complete and total failure as an NBA general manager ensured I will never see him as anything other that a talking head. Most Laker fans remember McHale for his clothesline of Kurt Rambis in the 1894 Finals. Had that flagrant foul happened in the NBA of today, he would have been suspended and fined. Instead, this play seemed to help shift some of the series momentum towards Boston, and McHale showed the world yet another Celtics player willing to be a cheap bitch.

Honorable Mention –  Phil Jackson

Let’s not forget what Jackson was before his stints as the Laker coach and the 5 championships he won in Los Angeles. Don’t forget Jackson was a key member of the Knicks teams that beat the Lakers in 1970 and 1973.  Let’s not forget the six titles he coached the Bulls to in the 90’s. If it weren’t for those five Laker rings, he would have had to be on this list.  Maybe he should be anyway…

Hating Mike Krzyzewski Postponed Due to Baseball

Why do they always put the NCAA basketball Championship game on baseball’s Opening Day? This forces many sports fans to into a choice as to which great sporting they will watch; the beginning of the best sports seasons in America or the culmination of one of its biggest events. In any event, the fact that I stuck with Opening Day means I’m a bit late to some needed hating on Mike Krzyzewski.

Naturally, resident ESPN analyst and personal Krzyzewski fellatrix Dick Vitale just can’t understand why there is all this Duke hatred out there.  Let’s see if I can clear this up for Dicky V.

Fark Rule #1: Duke still sucks. Regardless of the day or its events, I could never miss that. Of course, this also means the Mike Krzyzewski is still one of the most dislikeable people in all of sport. He runs a program that loves to be elitist; the arrogance of Duke knows no bounds. For example, now that Duke has won its fourth national title under Coach Krybaby, Dukies are mistakenly calling him the greatest basketball coach of all time.

Granted, this accomplishment ties Coach K with Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp, but in terms of titles doesn’t even get him halfway to the Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden. UCLA’s 10 NCAA championships under Wooden represents one the most unlikely marks in sports to ever be equaled.  As far as professional coaches go, the comparison can’t be made as Coach K has never coached in the NBA. Even if he does take the New Jersey Nets up on the offer to lead that sorry franchise, Coach Krybaby is never to going to come anywhere near the greatness that is Phil Jackson.

But Jackson need not worry as that’s only one reason why Krzyzewski isn’t going to leave Duke. The most obvious reason is power. Let’s be honest, in Durham Coach Krybaby has all the trappings of an unquestioned ruler. College basketball is a coaches’ game and coaches can dictate like they could burn the Reichstag anytime they wanted to, which is the exact opposite in the NBA. In the professional ranks, the players’ salaries lap those of coaches, the players have a union, and coaches with an authoritarian style don’t last long.

The real reason Marinus Van Der Lubbe wouldn't go to Duke.

It really is a bit sad that Krzyzewski won’t go to the NBA. I rarely watch the NBA which means I likely would never have to see that stupid “four more years to Gene Keady” combover on top of Coach K’s face, which always has a look on it like he just sniffed a used jockstrap.  But I would make it a point to tune in to see the Coach Krybaby press conference as he is getting grilled by the New York media as to why his team sucks, if for no other reason than to see Krzyzewski deal with tough questions rather than the usual idolatry to which he is accustomed.

The Keady Combover: Asphalt does in fact make an excellent hair product.

But the saddest part is we may never get to see Krzyzewski on the receiving end of something he really deserves…succumbing to his inevitable fate, pulling one of his usual screaming tirades and getting P.J. Carlesimo-ed.

The Battle of the Dakotas

We live in America; a country where nearly 4 out of 10 high-school graduates could tell you anything lucid about The Civil War, and even less can find any given state on a map. Worse yet, some of them can’t even find the map. Given such a dismal state of geographic knowledge, it’s time for a comparative study of two states about which you should really know more than you do; North and South Dakota.

For example, they didn’t fight each other during the Civil War. In fact, they weren’t admitted to the union until 34 years after the end of the war, but that still doesn’t stop the average dolt passed through an American high school from telling you the Battle of Gettysburg was fought on the banks of the Missouri River.

However, that isn’t to say that these two states haven’t fought along the “Big Muddy.” Since “Dakota” is and old Indian word meaning “friend or ally,” these namesake states have been engaged in a squabble for nearly a century over the bones of famous Sioux chief Sitting Bull. To this end, they have engaged in all sorts of chicanery, ranging from litigation to grave-robbing.

Sadly, and to the peril of us all, this conflict has largely been overshadowed by other world hot-spots. This can only be explained by the fact most of world knows little about remote corner of the world occupied by the Dakotas; nearly 144,000 square miles inhabited by about 1.4 million people. To give you scale of how desolate that really is, it means all told, the Dakotas have the same population as that bustling metroplex known as greater Fresno, shoe-horned into 720 times the space.

So before this split land – South Dakota with its granite presidents with the stones to push the button on all those nuclear missiles siloed under North Dakota – decides to turn its collective wrath on the rest of us, let’s try to sort out this North vs. South battle before it mushrooms into another civil war.

 

Largest Cities

Fargo vs. Sioux Falls

Referring to these two burghs as “cities” stretches the definition farther than Fat Bastard’s waistband; together they barely have the population of a standard 50-foot shipping container filled with illegal Chinese immigrants; meaning approximately 200,000.

In the North, Fargo is a rapidly growing mini-city; it is quickly approaching such garden spots as Bossier City, Louisiana and Yuma, Arizona in terms of livability, despite the fact that the entire town is frozen solid approximately 14 months out of every year. It manages this by having a surprisingly robust IT industy, a park with a big-ass Viking ship with a name totally unpronounceable by anybody posessing properly-formed tongue and palate, and one of the best dark comedies ever made named for it.

Meanwhile, the South’s primary city spends its existence playing the proverbial “ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night,” doing all it can to attract drunken frat boys for even the most demeaning encounters. South Dakota knows this town is so unappealing its government does something politicians almost never do; promising to keep their fingers out of the wallets of businesses that will “date its ugly daughter.”

Advantage: North Dakota

 

Obscure Cult Sports

Curling vs. Cow Tipping

I’ll be honest here…I can’t say for certain that South Dakota is the birthplace of cow-tipping, but for some reason every person I’ve ever known who got their kicks out of drinking gallons of whatever cheap beer they could afford and sneaking up on cattle for the express purpose of knocking them over was a SoDak.

Of course, the beer is the common thread here. North Dakota borders Canada, a country that really only contributes two things to world culture; beer and ice-bound sports (poutine might be a close third, but that’s for another time). Since it is too hard to drink beer while knocking somebody retarded with a hockey stick, the Canadians perfected curling.

For those unfamiliar, is really somewhat like bowling on ice in the sense that participants occasionally slide a heavy thing at some other heavy things, but really spend the majority of three hours drinking as much beer as is humanly possible in the allotted time. Perhaps this is why they are so insane about it.

Advantage: Tie – Either way, you get to drink a lot of beer

 

NFL Players

Adam Vinitieri vs. Jim Kleinsasser

Normally, one might find it difficult to compare a kicker with a knuckle-dragging tight end. Face it, most kickers are guys who are more worried about their golf swing and keeping their uniforms clean rather than the true dirtiness football can bring, but Vinitieri just makes kicks when it counts. After all, where better to learn to make big kicks in 14-degree weather covered in mud, blood, and snot than playing football in November for South Dakota State?

In contrast, a tight end can either be an effective receiver, a determined blocker, or in Jimmy K’s case, a nearly inert 280-pound walking side of beef who if not for those jerky commercials he’s been starring in would be almost completely anonymous. Let’s be honest, to find Kleinsasser, you would have to go down further on the Vikings’ depth chart than Jenna Jameson at her first audition.

That’s why you just have to look at overall value; Vinitieri may very bell the best clutch kicker in history. On the other hand, while Kleinsasser may be a fair-to-middlin’ blocker, his Cro-Magnon level of hand-eye coordination means he struggles to clutch the ¾-horsepower Lawn Boy he uses to give his pelt that full, layered look. In fact, if it weren’t for recent miracle advances in hair-removal technology, Jimmy stood a solid chance of being the first person in medical history to die during a pre-operative shave.

Advantage: North Dakota – Because, well…let’s be honest. The other guy is a kicker.

 

TV Cop Babes

Angie Dickinson vs. Cheryl Ladd

North Dakota’s entry in this contest is Angie Dickinson, better known as Sgt. Pepper Martin from “Police Woman,” while South Dakota gives us Cheryl Ladd, best known as one the “replacement” blondes from “Charlie’s Angels.” Since both contestants come from the magical world of cheese-ball 1970’s television, those of you under 40 may not know of these slices of babe-itude; they both certainly could be plopped into the “Hot Blond” bucket in their respective days.

But this is really more than just a “Who would you rather bang?” contest. To understand why, we really need to keep this real for a moment. See, I know the demographic from which readers of this blog originate:

A)    People currently undergoing psychotropic therapy on an out-patient basis

B)     40-year-old bachelors who need a break from fishing through MySpace for chicks who won’t respond to their friend requests

C)    Overnight security personnel with body-image issues and way too much spare time

D)    All of the above

The reason I point this out is simple. If you are a male reading this, you likely come from one of the categories above, and therefore have about as much chance of nailing a truly hot blond as Stephen Hawking does slam-dunking a basketball. In other words, forget about it and concentrate on the other stuff, boys. But if you a female reading this, call me. I can get calls at the halfway house between 3:00 and 6:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Alas, I digress. The point is while Cheryl Ladd played a major role in my puberty, so did all the other Charlie’s Angels. So, you really must delve into the minutia on this one. Ladd also starred on the classic-yet-terrible Josie and the Pussycats, which gave her the idea that she could sing, and even guest-starred on Dickinson’s cop show. One might think this makes the contest a landslide in Ladd’s favor, but Dickinson has what may be the ultimate trump card: She boned William Shatner on screen.

Yeah, you read that right. If you’ve never seen it, you must – repeat must – find a copy of the 1974 drive-in theatre cheese-tastic classic “Big Bad Mama” and watch it, if for no other reason than you can die knowing you’ve seen what arguably may be the most awkward sex scene in American cinematic history.

Advantage: North Dakota – Shatner, baby…Shatner

Coaching Legends

Sparky Anderson vs. Lute Olson

Yeah, I know, in baseball, coaches are referred to as “managers,” but on the other hand, at Arizona, the basketball coach is generally just known as “that douchebag.”

Lute Olson is the sort of guy who left his native North Dakota for the bright lights and big city lifestyle only coaching the University of Iowa could bring. But when he couldn’t handle the “fishbowl” that Iowa City became after taking the Hawkeyes all the way to mediocrity, he bolts for the sands of the University of Arizona, where he specialized in convincing the Minnesota Timberwolves that Wildcat big men were completely worthy of being in the NBA (Wolves fans fess up, …don’t tell me you don’t think of the Loren Woods and Sean Rooks of the world and vomit in your mouth just a little bit…)

The Lute-ster is also the kind of leader that deserts his team for “a leave of absence,” and promises Kevin O’Neill (the guy who fills in during Lute’s absence) that he will be Olson’s successor on his retirement. Of course, Lute comes back, and during his returning press conference he yanks the rug out from under O’Neill by making the surprise announcement that “that Kevin O’Neill would never coach at the University of Arizona again.”

Anderson, on the other hand, is one of only a few managers to win World Series in both the National and American leagues not to mention 4,000 regular season games, all while managing to become a television star in the process. Who can forget such great Sparky moments as his guest stints on The Hollywood Squares or as a talk-show host on WKRP in Cincinnati? Besides, just the thought that he might have had the opportunity to get a little Anderson-on-Anderson action with WKRP’s Loni is enough for me.

Advantage: South Dakota

Basketball

Eric Piatkowski vs. Phil Jackson

This is easily the biggest mismatch in this tournament. While Piatkowski’s hoops prowess led him to such accolades as being named South Dakota’s “Mr. Basketball,” a storied career at the University of Nebraska, and a solid NBA career, it’s no match for Phil Jackson.

Not only is Jackson the greatest cager in the history of the University of North Dakota, in fact, Jackson’s battles in the Division II basketball playoffs in 1965 and 1966 with Southern Illinois’ Walt Frazier are as legendary in the small-school circuit as the 1979 NCAA Finals’ duel between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.  Jackson apparently had a bead on the NBA as well; he was known more for being a defensive force, leading the league in personal fouls in 1975. He also won the league championship in 1973 as a member of the New York Knicks. Of course, Jackson then went on to get rings for all the rest of his digits as a coach; six with the Bulls, and three more with the Lakers.

Now for the “as if that weren’t enough” moment…Not only does Jackson rack up this list of Hall-of-Fame-worthy accomplishments, he has the juice to pull off one of the great “Huge Balls” moves of all time. Jackson took a walk from the Lakers and his strained relationship with owner Dr. Jerry Buss in 2004, only to be begged to come back by Buss after it was discovered that Jackson had been having an affair Buss’ daughter. Who else do you know that can fuck the boss’ daughter, not marry her, and still get a raise?

Advantage: North Dakota

Guys With Funny Accents

Tom Brokaw vs. Lawrence Welk

Realistically, what are the odds that two television icons were born in towns on this remote prairie barely 70 miles apart? While Brokaw and Welk are bound by birth to the border area of the central Dakotas, they are nevertheless separated by more than just that line on a map. They also have their own ways of sounding hilarious when they speak.

Granted, the fact this area was settled by predominantly German settlers during the homestead era and that some of these towns were so isolated that in many of them, the residents spoke mostly their native tongue explains why Welk arrived on the scene fresh from Strasburg, N.D. with a accent thicker than Sergeant Schultz and those guys that got melted in Raiders of the Lost Ark. But, somebody needs to explain me how he managed to keep the brogue of the Fatherland after spending every Saturday night for over 50 years imploring your grandparents to do bong hits to the strains of songs about “toking.”

Brokaw, on the other hand, gets big points for being able to pull off one of the great rip-offs of all time. Brokaw made his bones as a news anchor; the primary requirements being a) the ability to read a teleprompter and b) being able to annunciate. The fact that he made bazillions of dollars in this profession all while having a complete inability to pronounce at least six different consonants gives him about a 9.5 on the “Scam-o-meter.” Sadly, he would have scored higher had the trail for such speech-impedimentry not been blazed by the patently ridiculous Barbara Walters.

Advantage: North Dakota – At least Welk had a bubble machine

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