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NBA Playoffs Suns Lakers Game 1: It's in the league's best interest to reel Phil Jackson in

May 15, 2010, 9:47 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for NBA_philjackson.jpgIt seems like a fun little sideshow, doesn’t it? The grizzled veteran coach, waxing basketball philosophic and occasionally using his razor-sharp wit to jab at other players and the officials. A basketball legend using the media to gain as much leverage over the calls as he can get. It’s a charming story.

And it’s got to stop.

Yesterday, we clued you in to Phil Jackson’s latest dig at officiating related to Steve Nash and his penchant for “carrying.” It’s yet another in a long history of Jackson swinging out in officiating-related matters.

There’s been a lot of talk about increasing the punishment for coaches that complain about officiating. David Stern spoke about possibly suspensions, a notion Jackson laughed off while calling the commissioner by his first name. And yesterday’s little dig shows that he doesn’t actually think Stern will go far enough to lean on him. It’s a small, careful, and quiet comment that Stern can’t really punish him beyond fines which amount to asking someone for whatever they’ve got in their pockets.

If Stern’s serious about this, if he wants to make the point that coaches cannot, under any circumstances, attempt to influence officiating in any way, the next time Jackson speaks out, he’s got to suspend him. Especially if it happens in the next two weeks.

Bear in mind that this is a crucial time for the league’s public officiating situation. Tim Donaghy is still flitting around like a hobo trying to ask anyone outside the league’s office for money in exchange for his windshield wipers of allegations. But there have been no officiating disasters in the playoffs this year, unlike the Mavericks no-call among others last year. The league has a real chance to get past the lingering outside perception that certain officiating wrinkles are influenced by league folds.

But a mess in a series against the Suns from the most winningest franchise in NBA history?

That would be unfortunate timing.

The league already flinches every time the Robert Horry hipcheck and subsequent suspensions are shown. They flinch whenever discussion of the 2002 Game 6 are brought up. They flinch whenever Tim Donaghy’s involvement in both of those series are brought up. They don’t waver, but they flinch.

Ensuring that we don’t end up in a situation where the Lakers look like the favored son, where there’s no chance of Jackson successfully bending the officials knees to his liking, that’s a sound strategy to end the controversy. Allowing Jackson to flaunt whatever influence he wants is a flawed approach. The carrying issue is nothing, it’s a blip on the radar. But the league needs to be ready to suspend Phil Jackson, in a playoff series, if he seeks to influence the officiating again, even if he’s right.

The Lakers are more than capable of dismantling the Suns based solely on their basketball ability and length. Making sure there’s no funny business is a win-win for the league.

The questions about the league’s officiating history are on the ropes, dazed, and stunned. Phil Jackson is unknowingly, or unconcernedly slipping them Gatorade. It’s time for the Commissioner’s office to knock them out.

106 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Chownoir - May 15, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    How come no one ever complains when Lakers are on the wrong side of huge differential in FT’s such as Games 3 and 4 of the OKC series?
    But the Lakers have to be careful whenever they have the FT advantage?

  2. GJ - May 15, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    Last week Jerry Sloan said Kobe was like Miss America because “…he gets what ever he wants”. I’m not really sure how that differs from Phil commenting on Nash. Media personnel (and the rest of humanity) need to remember the 1st Amendment (how do they forget this?) and quit trying to make the NBA even more of a Stern dictatorship than it already is.

  3. jaime - May 15, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Basketball has been has been a big joke, starting form Stern and he stupid penaties. As for the officials if that what you want to call them start doing your jobs. You Big babies.

  4. Alan Dean Foster - May 15, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Yeah, Kobe never carries on his drives….

  5. Paul - May 15, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    Absolutely not. It is crazy to sit here and say that the coaches shouldn’t talk about what everyone is seeing. The officiating at the NBA level is absolutely horrible! I don’t even like the Lakers, I think that they are a bunch of prima donna’s, but that doesn’t change the fact that the refs suck! Keep at it, Phil!

  6. Otto - May 15, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Perhaps the problems might be associated with with questionable officiating rather than the coaches that point it out.

  7. randy - May 15, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    they should have never let Kobo out of Colorado when he raped that woman.
    SHE SAID NO KOBE!
    Hopefully he ends up with a broken face like Ginobli when they play the suns.
    Nash & Co. FTW.

  8. Laker fan - May 15, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    But the league needs to be ready to suspend Phil Jackson, in a playoff series, if he seeks to influence the officiating again, EVEN IF HE’S RIGHT???
    WTH?

  9. Brian - May 15, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    This may be one of the worst articles I have ever read Matt. I think you said to “suspend Phil Jackson…even if he’s right”.
    What turnip field did you crawl out of? Go back!

  10. Eddie Bacon - May 15, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    I think you’re forgetting about the wonderful relationship Clyde Drexler had with Jake O’Donnell. In Portland, refs will always have a bad name!!!!

  11. Anonymous - May 15, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    HE DID NOT RAPE THE WOMAN!! She lied about everything. She went willingly, had sex, then got a ton of money. Don’t you remember her story, she had semen from numerous others. Get the facts and a life, because it is obvious you don’t have one. Grow up, you loser.

  12. Suns Fan - May 15, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    lakers suck kobe is to old

  13. Good Life - May 15, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    This is a great article…. Phil needs to shut up and they need to make sure no players or coaches influences refs. Refs do the best they can with what they have. The only reason Phil is making these comments is because he truly believes that the Lakers may have met there match in the Suns… Let play hard but fair on both sides….

  14. roger - May 15, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    Not just Jackson, LeBron was flappin his jaws at officals throughout the Boston series, no calls. When a Celtic even looked at an offical, Technical! Very similar with Kobe, also! Call the “t”‘s on those arrogant players and coaches, end desparities.

  15. GH-62739 - May 15, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    What everyone has forgets is that, over the course of a career, 50% of the calls will be for you and 50% will be against you. Instant replay and slow-mo has ruined the three major ball sports and has made “Sunday morning quaterbacks” out of everyone. The eye doesn’t catch everything in a split second so let’s us allow the refs to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. After all, these are only games and not the end of the world.

  16. Mamba - May 15, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Mr: Matt Moore/ Moron; since when is illegal to talk to Referees ? Obviously your views & believes are of a Police-State. Everyone who watches Basketball games knows that most Referees are Bias & Corrupt. So what is your agenda expert idiot ?

  17. Dwight - May 15, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Randy, why are you even able to post on here after murdering all those people? And don’t say you didn’t do it, because you have now been accused, so that makes you guilty.
    As far as posts about the “T”s that Kobe gets away with, there was a lot of jawing at the officials by Boozer and Sloan (and others)during the Lakers-Jazz series, but I didn’t notice any technicals being called on them…but I suppose that’s different. There are going to be ccomplaints, from fans and players/coaches alike, as long as the officiating is as unbalanced and poorly done as it currently is; the calls do not always go the “favorites” way, either, in spite of protests otherwise (note Gasol getting obviously smacked in the face yet no call of any kind was made…one of a ton of similar non-calls). All kinds of fines and threats are thrown at the players and staffs of the teams, but I never hear about any type of punishment for crappy officiating (an occasional “oops, we did bad” does not count). Stern needs to be just as “tough” on his officials as he is with his show fines on the players/coaches, and I’m not just talking about pointing fingers at one guy that got caught gambling.
    By the way, “Good Life”, I think Kobe is about four years younger than grampa Nash, so if age is the consideration, say bye-bye Suns. And the Lakers suck so bad they are once again playing for the West championship.

  18. fpgonzo - May 15, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    Phil needs to shut up???? What the hell for??? Are the refs so stupid and pliable that they shift with every change in the wind??? Is Stern’s ego so delicate that he wilts every time someone makes a simple commment about his beloved refs??? THAT’S STUPID! These guys (refs, commissioner) are NOT perfect, and prove that fact on a regular basis. If they can’t handle an occasional comment, if they can’t do their jobs because Phil (or anyone else) makes a jagged, yet indirect, comment about officiating, maybe the whole crew should be replaced…commissioner incluced. (What are you going to do NOW, Stern…fine me???) Suspend a coach, any coach, who’s in the conference finals…weeks before the finals…that’s just dumb! This article is dumb!

  19. Ken - May 15, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Who are these reporters and when did they start being allowed their opinions in their reporting? “And he needs to be suspended”???? It’s the NBA playoffs…..grow up!!!! The coach will coach, the players will play. They will do whatever it takes to gain an advantage. Who are you to say they should or should not be suspended? And when did it become against any rule to point out the opposing players flaws? If you want a rule change then join the rules committee and do something about it….otherwise stop whining and shut up!

  20. Mamba - May 15, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    Kobe didn’t raped this White Trash like you, she was looking to Trap him for an extortion. If he was an ordinary Black guy she wouldn’t even bother to flirt with him. She is like ALL Redneck White Trash, looking for trouble or making money by having Sex with a Rich guy.

  21. Mica - May 15, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    great article….pffft.
    next time try writing an article that actually responds to the point that the topic is trying to make.
    does or does not Steve Nash carry the ball a very large portion of the time when he drives or changes direction?
    if the answer is anything other than yes….you don’t watch basketball.
    so what’s wrong again with what Phil Jackson said?
    let’s just penalize everyone for speaking the truth now. nonsense.

  22. Larry - May 15, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Eddie, the O’Donnell situation with Drexler was far different. O’Donnell, through a friend and video recorder found Drexler to be taking cheap shots at players behind the play like Dennis Rodman. He felt there was no need for an all-star to be trying to get away with that, so he called them tighter on Drexler. Drexler brought the mess on himself. He always thought he was getting away with things.
    O’Donnell and Earl Strom were the fairest officials of their era. Cheap shots behind the play they wouldn’t tolerate. The non sense by the league that O’Donnell wouldn’t shake Drexler’s hand before game 1 in the PHX series was a bad excuse to suspend O’Donnell. O’Donnell was as unpartisan as they come. if he shook Drexler’s hand he has to do it to all the players and coaches etc. Absurd.
    I was in row 8 at the game and Drexler used a 3 minute 4 letter word tirade at O’Donnell due to what he thought were two tic-tac fouls he thought were called against him. With that kind of language tirade, he had to be tossed. You could hear it all over the arena.

  23. Eric, OKC - May 15, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    Every team the OKC Thnder play ends up on the wrong side of the FT differential. It’s the style that the Thunder play. Phil Jackson over works the officials. But that’s his style.
    I don’t think it will matter this time. The Suns will win this series.

  24. soma - May 15, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    NBA officiating is not as perfect as David Stern want you to believe. To get a feedback from coaches and try to correct them is the right way of improving the game and NBA. To penalize anybody who dare to speakout, is the beginning of the end. For Phil Jackson to speak out againts certain calls or certain players who get away is the right things to do. Do you think that the referees will make the call to favor Jackson’s team if he speaks out is ridiculous!

  25. km - May 15, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    The first 2 calls in any game that follows these “philosophical meanderings” by Phil should be technicals on Phil. For absolutely no reason. Just T him up as the first 2 whistles and then eject him.
    Let the officials deal with his thinly veiled challenges to their objectivity. This would happen once or at most twice and then he would keep his mouth shut.

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