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Phil Jackson: Miami has talent, but will they have teamwork?

Sep 22, 2010, 8:39 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for pjackson_finals.jpgPhil Jackson knows a little something about winning titles.

He knows there are two parts to getting a ring. First is having enough talent on the roster. Second is what Jackson has specialized in — molding that talent into a cohesive team.

Jackson told ESPN 1000 in Chicago that Miami now has half of the equation, but the other half remains to be seen.

“They got great talent,” Jackson said in an interview with ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “There’s no question about their talent they have. But, talent doesn’t always win. The team that shows the best teamwork will win it. We think that [the Lakers] have established something. But, if [the Heat] can unite — and build quickly — they might be able to do it…”

“I always refer to when Wilt Chamberlain was traded from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and that put [Elgin] Baylor, [Jerry] West and Chamberlain together — three of the top scorers in NBA history — and they never won a championship together the four years they were together,” Jackson said.

“It’s not always scorers and talent that wins it. But it’s teamwork that does it.”

The Lakers and the Celtics (and even the Magic) have proven they are teams, with talented players willing to sacrifice toward a common goal. How fast Miami learns to do that — and do it in the pressure cooker of the playoffs — will determine how quickly they win an NBA title.

  1. Omnius - Sep 22, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    Phil Jackson is right on the money, while the Heatstroke has 3 talented players can they work together as a team? Or will their egos get in the way as they now have to share the ball and score less? I bet on them having squabbles over who gets to shoot their first year while they peeve their lesser players who won’t be getting the ball much and will just fade away as the games progress. Kobe Bryant is the greatest NBA player period and the Repeat World Champion Lakers will Threepeat next June! Laker fans expect another championship while the rest are just deluded into thinking their teams have a chance against the real deal team.

  2. Anthony - Sep 22, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    I think the Heat will be able to pull it off, but eventually, the equivalent of what happened with Shaq and Kobe will happen between Dwyane and LeBron. They may be able to squeeze a couple of championships out but I think they will grow tired of sharing the limelight.
    This isn’t a Jordan/Pippen relationship. Jordan was excellent by himself and Pippen was good by himself. It was Jordan that made Pippen excellent. Both Dwayne and LeBron are excellent by themselves and there will eventually be tension between the two.

  3. hnirobert - Sep 22, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Talent doesn’t win championships, Phil? Your entire career has been based on having the most talented team. Phil’s a great coach, yes, but you can’t deny that his teams have always been more talented than whoever they played in the finals.
    Phil’s doing his usual voodoo, trying to get in their heads. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Pat Riley’s pretty good too and will be able to get this team right.

  4. rickey mcdowell - Sep 22, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    I think this is a great opertunity for these guy’s lets share the trophy not just LA & Boston.These three guy’s are a lot youngrer than the three in Boston.

  5. dmvdmv101560 - Sep 22, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    hnirobert,
    You obviously know nothing about professional basketball. There were many teams more talented than the Chicago Bulls when Jackson coached them but they had Jordan and Pippin and a bunch of role players who accepted their positions within the team and performed their roles as they were supposed to do. I would say the same thing for the Lakers over the last several years, also. As of now, Miami has the talent but they do not have the role players to win a championship – whoever contends that they can win it all without players who will play a niche role on the team is delirious.

  6. Mo - Sep 22, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    Talent alone doesn’t win championships. The Lakers had Shaq and Kobe for 3 years before Phil came and only made it to the WCF once. Doug Collins couldn’t take Jordan and Pippen to the NBA Finals either.

  7. walken - Sep 22, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    Somebody has to play point guard, dish the ball and make a few jumpers. All they have is Mario Chambers. Trust me, he’ll never be called Super Mario…
    Somebody has to play center, get a few rebounds and defend the rim. All they have is Joel Anthony… a puny 6’9″ and 245 pounds of disappointment…
    There won’t be any NBA championships from the Heat unless they change the rules and allow 3 balls on the court. One for each EGO…

  8. hnirobert - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Really, like who? The Knicks with Ewing and undrafted John Starks? The Pacers with Reggie Miller and Rik Smits? Or the Rockets with Hakeem and a 33 year old Otis Thorpe? How about Shaq and Penny? No other team in the NBA could sniff the jock strap of those Bulls teams in the 90’s.
    I’m not taking away from Phil, great coach, probably the greatest ever, but the dudes teams have been loaded. Let’s not act like he was winning championships with Kobe and Kwame Brown… in fact, they were getting bounced in the 1st round.

  9. King James - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    This is coming from a Cavs fan. If you have read a lot of what has been written this isn’t going to be as ego driven as people make it to be. The reason why Reilly put this together was not only because of the talent but how the talent wants to represent itself.
    LeBron admitted that he did not like being the go to guy for scoring. He doesn’t want to be the next Michael Jordan he wants to be the next Magic Johnson or better still, Oscar Robertson. He wants to be that second player to ever average a triple double for a season. The harder part of this equation is the assists and rebounds. If you are shooting all the time assists and rebounds are even harder to come by. If Wade is your go to shooter assists and rebounds become a bigger part of his game. He only needs to average 10, 10 & 10. I believe his most difficult challenge will be the rebounds. I can see this sequence happening a lot though, rebound James, runs the floor, passed to Wade, Score. 1 rebound, 1 assist that much closer. Where he will run into a problem is when he and Bosh are both on the floor and when he is passing to the supporting cast that won’t bury the shots. Known all too well in Cleveland.
    It’s going to be interesting to see how many minutes all three of them will share on the floor at the same time. It’s also going to be interesting to see how blatantly these guys pad their stats if they come out of the gate winning easily.
    LeBron is an immature punk who thinks his …. don’t stink but he is a hell of a basketball player. Barring injury or a complete ego melt down this NBA season could be a complete joke.
    I have only one two part wish, the Cavs make it back to the playoffs and beat the Heat. I probably have a better chance of winning the Powerball three times before that could happen but a man has to have a dream.

  10. RoniSkye - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    If talent won championships then the 2003-2004 lakers would have won it all. Bryant, Shaq, Malone, Payton and a number of role players. They didn’t win and got beat out by a team with less talent but a lot better chemestry

  11. hnirobert - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    You must be an ignorant fly-by-night fan if you think this team needs a PG. Have you watched how LBJ and D-Wade play at their best? It’s with the ball in their hand. There crunchtime five will be Wade, Bosh, Haslem, Mike Miller and LBJ.
    While the center position is the ONE concern this team has (especially if they don’t get Dampier who would be an upgrade from what they have), they have enough big bodies (Haslem, Magloire, Pittman, Anthony) to bang around in the paint and give fouls and grab boards. Throw in Z who will stretch the floor because of his outside shot and they’ll be fine. This is a guard driven league, we’re not talking about the days when you had Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaq, Ewing and to lesser effects Zo and Dikembe. The best center in the league, Dwight Howard, is very raw with his skills and wouldn’t be able to hang with any of the aforementioned centers in their prime (other than maybe Zo who was undersized for his position and Dikembe who had no ability on offense).

  12. terry - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    When Jerry Krause came to Chicago in 1986 MJ was there. It took 5 years for them to win their first title. Every other player and every coach on those 6 title winners was brought there by Jerry Krause. He knew that he had to find the players to compliment MJ and that is exactly what he did.
    Between 1991 and 1998 the Bulls won 6 titles in 8 years. In those 8 years there was a 83% turnover in personnel – 10 out of 12. Granted it doesn’t hurt when your remaining 17% are named Jordan and Pippen, but still that ain’t bad.
    In the 1987 draft through trades and drafting Krause landed two players who started on a title winning team Grant and Pippen. No big deal? How about this – the only other GM who has pulled off something like that – got two starters for a title winning team in the same draft – in the last 30 years or so was Red Auerbach when he landed Kevin McHale and Robert Parish in the 1981 draft.
    Phil Jackson was and still is a GREAT coach but I would wager that no one today would have the faintest idea who he is had Jerry Krause not given him a chance 24 years ago.

  13. Sagawod - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    First, let me start off by saying that I want the Heat to fail as much as anyone outside of Miami. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, they will eventually win a championship. They may not do it this year, they may not do it next year, or maybe even the year after that; but they have their 3 star players (all of whom are in their prime) under contract for 6 years. That’s six seasons to gain some cohesiveness, so I would say that time is on their side. The only factors that I think can prevent the Heat from winning a championship within the next six years are severe career-damaging injuries to star players (see Penny Hardaway, Chris Webber, Bill Walton, Tracy McGrady, etc.) and irreconcilable animosity in the locker room.

  14. Lion Woods - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    Phil Jackson is a great motivator of chacter. Jackson is able to get the most out of the individual ballplayers adhering to a team concept. Phil can get in the heads of his players and demand that they execute whatever game plan is outlining for their opponent. Pat Riley has the same knack, but I don’t think it will be relayed to his team from the front office. It will take Rileys hands on coaching ability to get this dog to hunt. Otherwise it will go like this… Ego brings it up court… passes to eego, eego dribbles around ignoring his teammates, shoots up a long three… off the rim, rebounded by eeego; he chucks it out to ego and ego shoots an even longer three… eego is obviously upset by the lack of team play and the your guessed it… egos.

  15. walken - Sep 22, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    You’re right, I’m not a fan of watching spoiled ignorant ego laden miscreants travel all over the court and shoot 60% of their free throws and 40% of their shots.
    But I do know that D-Wade says he doesn’t want to be put in a position to have to play point guard and if either he or LeCon had to bring the ball up court on a regular basis, they’d probably dribble it off their foot most of the time. Neither one of them is fit to wear Magic Johnson, Steve Nash, Walt Frazier, Jason Kid or Jerry West’s jock strap.
    A point guard must be a team player. Sometimes a team needs you to dole out 15 assists, sometimes the team needs you to score 30. And, every once in a while, the team needs to stop giving a damn about your stats and lock-down the other team’s best scorer. And since neither of those bozo’s is a team player, it ain’t going to happen.

  16. Alan C - Sep 22, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    The only reason it is said that Phil Jackson only won championships because he had great players, was because Phil made them great. Shaq and Kobe were playing together BEFORE Phil arrived and didn’t win anything. It was Phil’s coaching that dramatically resulted in the championship run(s).

  17. walken - Sep 22, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Phil Jackson is one of those once in a lifetime coaches that could take his team and beat yours or take yours and beat his. The proof is as simple as looking at what his teams did both before and after he was the head coach. I mean, how many championships does a man have to win before he gets any credit?

  18. MikeInGA - Sep 22, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    So who will be the scapegoat and who will be throwing around the blame when they don’t win it within the first couple of years? They need to win sooner rather than later because there will be NO chemistry the longer the drought continues.

  19. DoubleO - Sep 22, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    I agree with everything you said, except for the comments made about Jordan and Pippen. There’s no question that Jordan is the most acclaimed player in NBA history. But they both COMPLEMENTED each other. Neither was “spectacular” on their own. Jordan might have performed “spectacular” feats and put up “spectacular” numbers, but he never won a title without Pippen. Likewise Pippen was “good” but he never won a title without Jordan. Jordan even said that Scottie was the best teammate a basketball player could ever had because he knew how easy Scottie made it for Jordan to play at the level he needed to play at in order to win the finals year-in and year-out.
    I think what I am saying is don’t undermine Pippen because of Jordan’s sheer greatness. Their relationship was not a parasitic relationship, but rather a mutual relation. They both made each other great.

  20. Zed - Sep 22, 2010 at 9:25 PM

    The only thing that the Heat lack is a credible coach, one with the pedigre to match the level of talent on this newly assembled team. When Phil Jackson, the coach, questions their ability to gell, he is directly targeting the Heat coach, Erik Spoelstra, the biggest and perhaps ONLY question mark on the team. Phil Jackson is putting pressure on Spoelstra knowing full well that the young coach has had very little sleep ever since The Decision was made. It’s now his responsibility to see this dream team fulfill its destiny. No other coach in the NBA will have a tougher job this season, and Phil Jackson knows it all too well. But, the Heat have their own mastermind, Pat Riley. He is doing everything in his power to make sure that Phil Jackson retires without winning another ring. Spoelstra is perfectly suited for the job, and the Heat will go undefeated on their way to winning their second championship.

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