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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. Oblio - May 17, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    Matt: i bet you wear flannel shirts and eat cereal for all your meals. just watch sports and stay out of giving advice. And watch something other than cartoons on Saturday mornings.

  2. jimi - May 18, 2010 at 7:14 AM

    you must be the only idiot in the world that believes that girl (woman ) with semen from her boyfriend ( and others) in her panties was actually raped. She was a groupee/ golddigger and certainly set the wheels in motion for a payday. Kobe was foolish for being involved with her but there was no criminal act. Obviously you like to live by your own distorted reality rather than the facts. It’s your choice, either come back to earth or stay on Pluto.

  3. JJJ - May 25, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Uhhh, the Lakers shot some ungodly number of 3’s in those games. Something in the 30’s. No, you don’t get fouled many times when you’re jacking up 3’s the whole game. No big conspiracy.

  4. elmot - May 25, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    Tim Donaghy is “like a hobo”? Elsewhere I see he is accused of “spinning wild tales.” Why the the constant kill-the-messenger attitude from those who continue to insist on believing in the fantasy of fairness and competitiveness in the NBA? Face it, Donaghy speaks the truth. It doesn’t matter one bit whether he’s doing it for altruistic reasons or to turn a fast a buck, but he IS telling the truth.
    What a sad farce and and obvious racket pro basketball has become.

  5. Anon - May 26, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    For all those crying “freedom of speech,” “police state,” and comparisons to Hitler, it’s a fine representation of freedom of speech that even your inane comments are freely distributed. You’re kind of missing the point though in this case. Try going up to your boss and telling them to $*&*(%! off, and tell me how freedom of speech saves you from being fired (it doesn’t). I’m just surprised that the reporter who spoke to Phil Jackson didn’t ask him about the 4 steps and a jig that Kobe customarily takes when heading to the basket. Another thing that catches my attention (not really a basketball fan, but find the playoffs interesting) – is there a reason that Kobe doesn’t have to worry about whose head he takes off with his elbows? NBA officiating definitely “protects the stars.”

  6. Anonymous - Jun 5, 2010 at 8:19 PM


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