Blog Entry

Phil Jackson: Lakers fell apart in the clutch

Posted on: October 27, 2011 8:25 pm
Posted by Ben Golliverphil-jackson

Former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has a track record of opening up about his players once he's out the door. Who could forget his 2004 book The Last Season -- which should have been subtitled "Kobe Bryant is a Big Meanie" -- in which he was highly critical of his All-Star guard.

Now that he is officially retired, Jackson is once again able to speak candidly about his former teams and players. And, no surprise, the sharp-tongued coach pulls no punches. reports that Jackson said in a recent interview that the 2010-2011 Lakers, who were swept out of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks, were undone by their inability to perform in the big playoff moments.

"There is nothing that could have gone worse for a basketball team than the way we finished our season last year," Jackson said when he joined "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "Struggling with New Orleans ... and going into the next round [against Dallas] we needed everyone to start playing well and we just couldn't find that little magical thing that you always hope you have as a coach, the chemistry that makes a team work well."

"To lose an 18-point lead in the first game [against the Mavericks], not being able to outscore your opponent on your home court in the fourth quarter," he said, "to give them life in the very first game of the Dallas series was foreboding what was going to happen to us. We didn't have the ability to play in the clutch like we had in the previous years."
Jackson didn't use the "choke" word but it's certainly there, hovering between the lines. That's one of the heaviest criticisms a respected coach can levy against a veteran, prideful group. 

But this assessment winds up seeming tame when you think back to what really happened during the playoffs. Ron Artest clotheslined J.J. Barea in a remarkably dirty play. Then, Andrew Bynum nearly killed J.J. Barea with the dirtiest play of the year. Who could forget Steve Blake shooting 2-for-12 from downtown against the Mavericks? Then there was Lamar Odom getting wrapped up in a reality show and Pau Gasol no-showing for the postseason amidst rumors about his personal life.  Bryant was dealing with injuries throughout the postseason so he can be forgiven, but his postseason numbers were way down across the board from the 2010 championship run.

From top to bottom, last year's group melted down in a major way. Certainly, they were bad in the clutch, but they were pretty bad in all facets against the more disciplined and focused Mavericks.

None of this is to say that the talented Lakers are a total lost cause. (Well, Blake is likely a lost cause, but that's beside the point.) But they certainly needed a new voice -- which they got in Mike Brown -- and they need to find a new sense of purpose and motivation coming out of the lockout. A fresh start will do wonders. As will a little chip on the shoulder, which Jackson's comments very well might serve to provide.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: October 30, 2011 10:26 pm

Phil Jackson: Lakers fell apart in the clutch

You take front running homer to a much higher level.

Funny how Phil never said anything about the refs during the 4 game sweep. He hardly looked at the refs during the sweep.

And Phil has always made a veiled points if his teams were ever forced to see the refs fail to give his team an edge.

Sorry, son, Phil knowns his team was not ready for the different looks the champs gave them.

But this is the first time I remember a homer looking at the refs after a blowout sweep.

Since: Apr 14, 2011
Posted on: October 28, 2011 7:41 pm

Phil Jackson: Lakers fell apart in the clutch

Had to read this headline again: 10/28/11 6:41 pm.  This would be great news.

PJ is a Hall of Fame coach.  The Lakers had not accomplished anything with Shaq and Kobe until the Zen master arrived.  After that, they won every year.  Phil knows what he is talking about.  He has 11 rings.  Eleven.  As Spinal Tap lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel said, "Eleven. Exactly. One louder... These go to eleven."  Only Bill Russell can say I have as many rings as Coach Jackson.

There are three clearly defined reasons why the Lakers did not hang banner no. 17: Reprehensible, ludicrous, horrible officiating.  I watched the game DVRs a number of times and I can say for a fact, as an unbiased Laker fan, the Lakers should be champs.  It is clear that the officials were out to embarrass Phil Jackson in that Dallas series.  They knew PJ was going to retire so they decided to stick the dagger in him and turn the blade a few times.  The officials knew that PJ was not going to be around to point out the obviousness of the one-sided calls.  The frustration came to a full steam of head when Artest and Bynum blew up JJ Barea.  No question.  I thought Artest was going for the ball and Bynum was trying to take a charge.  Bad calls all the way around.

Look for the Lakers to win rings as long as Kobe draws breath.

Since: Oct 28, 2011
Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:24 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2011 3:25 am

Phil Jackson: Lakers fell apart in the clutch

And, of course, Phil thinks something or some one is at fault. Zen master's squad had no zen cool.

That is what Phil claimed to have brought to any of his teams. Zen cool.

While the team melted down, what was Phil doing? Clearly not enough.

But he did not throw anyone under the bus.

Of course, he would think that his team should have beaten the Mavericks. But I would have to hear(read) more of what he said to find "choke".

He did keep using the word "We" at every turn. He said "we couldn't find that little magical thing that you always hope to have as a coach".

This was not a clear "We win, I guided the team to title and we lose, they can't get it right".

I would expect after his 1st sweep of of the playoffs Phil would not be easy on the Lakers. Unless his tone was different when he spoke those words, I can't see this as Phil saying it was the team and he was above the issues.

Seems like he took some of the blame as well. I read that as the team was not ready for that much fight, not choke.

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