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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 EST

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. JMC - May 16, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Dear Matt Moore,
    Do you really think we want to hear your hate speak. This is basketball not MSNBC. Nobody is interested in your political opinions.

  2. Anonymous - May 16, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    They must not have TV where you live. Try watching a Laker game once in a while. You will then realize how much your team SUCKS.

  3. Dwight - May 16, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Sorry, CG, but the Lakers are the “winningest” team in NBA history, with more playoff appearances than the Celtics as well:
    TEAM NAME Games Wins Losses PCT
    1 Lakers 695 421 274 .606
    2 Celtics 549 319 230 .581
    Franchise Appearances
    Los Angeles Lakers 56
    Boston Celtics 46
    Celtics do beat the Lakers on championships 17 to 15, but perhaps that is just a matter of time as well…?

  4. randy - May 16, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    jealous are you? g’luck in life.

  5. J Mike - May 16, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    Talk about an over-reaction. This is what Red did his entire career with Boston and it wasn’t an issue then. Besides, it was totally tongue in cheek, and Nash & Gentry both totally laughed over it. So did Phil! Relax and enjoy what could be one of Phil’s last seasons.
    When he’s gone, you can enjoy coaches who say nothing except the usual pap about playing hard, and X’s & O’s. Until then – shut up and let us enjoy it.
    It’s not like he’s whining like Van Gundy.

  6. Michael - May 16, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    Ah, who cares what Phil says! All the more fun for the rest of us when the Lakers get their butts whupped…and the Hollywood peanut gallery has to just sit down, shut up, and go home. Legends in their own minds…but just overhyped gasbags to everyone else. It’s really hard to root for LA in anything…but,man, Phil and the Lakers (and fans) have got to be the most obnoxious bunch in the league. And that’s saying something when you toss in Philly, New York, and Boston.

  7. luffy - May 16, 2010 at 8:52 PM

    One thing is clear here, the cleveland fans shifted teams and went to the suns after the Cavs were beaten badly. That’s for sure…
    Everyone here who’s saying the Suns would win in the series are either the ones who don’t play/don’t know basketball or Kobe/Lakers Haters…
    And please people, we all know who the best coach is. Nobody could make Phil shut up unless you have more rings than him? I mean no one has the right to make him shut up…

  8. s - May 16, 2010 at 11:24 PM

    To Luffy – you have gotta be kidding! So if Phil told you to suck his dick no one cannot make him shut up because we don’t have more rings than him? You have gotta be kidding!

  9. olbuzz - May 16, 2010 at 11:24 PM

    Why should he shut up ….He’s right. Its amazing the fools that eat the cake. The Lakers always get a handout from the officials on the grassy knoll. These teams all know what they have to do to have a chance against this team and they play it to the hilt. 98 percent of the time it doesn’t work. They all see what they can get away with. L.A included. If any ref is influenced by Phil Jackson… He’s in the wrong business. You can tell which writer’s hate the Lakers. Hating a team and being out of material to write about equals a technical… Your gone Pal

  10. okeetee - May 16, 2010 at 11:55 PM

    ….I haven’t seen an NBA player in the last 30 years that DOESN’T carry the ball! Kobe and Jordan, two players Jackson has coached extensively, are in the “Palming” Hall of Fame! The ref’s should have cracked down on it when it first started….back when Earl “the pearl” Monroe developed that so-called “spin” move, which was really carrying the ball! Stop the palming and NBA players would be forced to pass more….and the sport would actually be “watchable” once again!

  11. PersonWithABrain - May 17, 2010 at 12:36 AM

    Boston has the most championships, not LA. Why would anyone pay attention to this article when the writer can’t even get important facts right?

  12. Frank - May 17, 2010 at 2:07 AM

    Because in those two games OKC was visibly more aggressive going to the basket and on offense as a whole. Nothing the Lakers or anyo ther team could have done about that.

  13. Chris - May 17, 2010 at 3:00 AM

    “Boston has the most championships, not LA. Why would anyone pay attention to this article when the writer can’t even get important facts right?”
    He didn’t write championships, he wrote the most winningest. That honor belongs to the Lakers by 55 games.
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/

  14. jgc711 - May 17, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    pretty stupid comment…

  15. luffy - May 17, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Hi s (short for sucker), that is one stupid, gay comment, perhaps you’re watching gay porn while you’re typing? Dude, I don’t know if you’re even a damn dude to give a comment like that, we are talking about basketball here and Phil has every right to say whatever he wants…

  16. Jesse - May 17, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Luffy, The first amendment doesn’t mean there are no consequences to your words. They can say whatever they want. They won’t be prosecuted or thrown in jail, but they will have to suffer the consequences from their employer.

  17. Scott - May 17, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    Of course Phil is a calculated whiner of officiating.
    He is calculated in everything he does.
    He has never tried to build a championship. Every coaching position he takes has a ready-built championship team.
    I would respect him more if he actually had to build a great team instead of inheriting a great team.
    That is the reason he will always be #2 behind Red as the greatest coach of all time, no matter what the record books says…..

  18. hoops - May 17, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Ever hear of free speech – maybe someone should censor your column.

  19. skootzilla - May 17, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    “the next time Jackson speaks out”? He should be penalized this time & next time. Like Nash said, the best coach in the NBA (Gregg Popovich) had no complaints about his style of play (palming?) when Phoenix swept San Antonio. And most importantly (correct me if I’m wrong), Nash has never been called by officials for palming the ball.

  20. Dwight - May 17, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Gee, skootzilla, while I’m sure Alvin Gentry appreciated his star player insinuating that he isn’t his pick for coach, Jackson probably couldn’t care less. And, while I assume you are a Suns fan from your stance, you might want to watch a couple of the games when they play…I have seen Nash called for running around without bothering to dribble and, trust me, I don’t watch a lot of Phoenix games.
    By the way, there are probably a lot of people that would say Popovich is the best coach, but there are probably even more that would disagree…it was obviously meant as a slam against Jackson, which most people noted (and why Gentry probably didn’t care, although it probably went flying right by you). At least Popovich has a few championships under his belt, as does Jackson and others…how many is it that Arnold PALMer, er, Steve Nash that is, has?

  21. Matt R - May 17, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    You are an idiot!!

  22. threegoal - May 17, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    While Kobe is four years younger than Steve Nash, they were in the same draft, and I bet have played close to the same total number of NBA games, counting both regular season and playoffs. In fact, Kobe probably has played more, with 6 NBA Finals appearances that I can count. The 4 years of difference between Nash and Kobe, from a basketball perspective, are four years of college ball for Nash, with 35 or so regular season 40 minute games and a couple of playoff games, max. They may all add up to 1-1/3 to 1-1/2 NBA seasons.
    In other words, when Kobe is Nash’s current age, he may well be more worn out than Nash, having played a lot more total games, and all against NBA competition. And that is without considering how much more of his game has been played in the air, with every jump leading to a landing on those knees.
    So I think that in terms of wear and tear, Nash may be 4 years older, but maybe about 1-1/2 years older in NBA basketball years.

  23. Shawna - May 17, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    Read the book Personal Foul. It will change your mind about the NBA and you will never watch another game the same way.

  24. Anonymous - May 17, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    He was married. If he is not a rapist, he is still a creep, a liar and an adulterer.

  25. GregoryJ - May 17, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    He was married! If he is not a rapist, he is still a creep, a liar and an adulterer.

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