Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Zen Master is back in L.A.! 

Today, the Lakers re-hired the only man who could possibly perform the job of Laker head coach: Phil Jackson. Why did this happen? Is it good? Bad?

The buzz in LA for the last few months (literally, they don't talk about anything else here) is Phil was actually hoping for a small percentage of ownership. There's no mention of that, yet, but also Jeanie Buss lobbied pretty hard for his return. And he likes LA. Those are all superficial reasons, though.

Jackson has been behind the scenes with LA since about February. The Lakers needed a big hire like Phil Jackson because the atmosphere in the Staples Center is, well, dead. There has to be a name on the sideline that commands respect and gives the illusion that this team is better than it really is. Jackson inherits a pretty shoddy squad with almost zero flexibility. The power dynamic, however, has shifted from Kobe to him. Why? Well, consider that Bryant is for all intents and purposes responsible for Jackson's exit last season. This year, Kobe runs the ship... into the bottom of the ocean. Now that Jackson has returned, Bryant will defer to someone who knows how to steer. Phil and Kobe met before this announcement came, so it isn't like Bryant's not on board. I'm imagining a re-implementation of the triangle with Kobe playing the MJ role.

Barring a Minnesota Timberwolves-style collapse, the Lakers are still probably a year away from realistically thinking playoffs in the Western Conference and Phil knows that. But if you're going to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs. It'll take time, but from LA's point of view (and it's the correct one), he is the ONLY man for the job.

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