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Phil Jackson says he wanted Kobe to play more like LeBron

Jun 19, 2012, 2:49 PM EDT

2011 NBA All-Star Game Getty Images

It’s no secret that in his second stint with the Lakers, Phil Jackson pushed hard to keep Kobe Bryant playing within the triangle system. With mixed results, we might add.

Jackson will be featured an HBO Real Sports segment Tuesday night — the same one where he called the Knicks roster “clumsy” — and was asked about how he would use LeBron differently than the Heat and Erik Spoelstra. Here is the transcription, via the Palm Beach Post.

“Oh, they’re– they’re using LeBron every possible way they can. He’s such a great player. I still think his game is gonna grow. I still think it’s gonna grow. But he was like Scottie Pippen was to the Bulls. He’s maybe a pass first and shoot second player. Whereas, you know, Michael or Kobe are like, “I’m gonna shoot this ball.” Every time they get the ball, they’re looking to score. LeBron’s not like that. And I love that about him. But he also, when he goes after scoring, he’s also terrific. You want a player that can do both. I tried to get Kobe to do both for numbers of years, and he could. But his first instinct is to beat the guy that’s in front of him.”

Mike Brown never labored under illusion that he could change Kobe’s game. He just turned the mamba loose and stood back. But you can understand what Phil wants, the happy medium between LeBron and Kobe.

One criticism of the Heat has been that LeBron and Dwyane Wade don’t play well together. Jackson doesn’t see it.

“ They’re doin’ great together. I mean, they really play off each other well. They are doing really well together.”

Jackson said he had not considered coaching those two for the Heat, but added he thought he and Pat Riley and he could get along just fine. Sure, sure they can. When have two guys with huge egos and very different styles not meshed seamlessly?

It’d be a fun experiment to try out just for the laughs, but that’s moot. Not going to happen.

  1. cantonbound13 - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Phil’s clearly been smoking the good stuff since being in retirement. Kobe has 5 rings to LeBron’s ZERO. I think Kobe turned out just fime.

    • gmen4life33 - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:55 PM

      Yea, put a young Lebron on the Lakers team with a dominate Shaq and he wouldnt have any rings…Common I hate Lebron, but if he had a real squad and not Mo Williams in CLE he would have some hardware right now.

      • lmoneyfresh - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:59 PM

        I don’t care for Lebron myself, and I have to agree with you. Shaq, Lebron and Phil would definitely bring home a few titles.

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        LeBron is the only “super star” not to win a title with Shaq.
        Cleveland still owes a lot to LeBon, after all he built that arena, one clutch brick at a time. Hahahahaha!

      • mrpostman985 - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        If lebron had da heart and drive of a Kobe or mike dey wuld hav won it last year !! And all championship teams has great supporting cast , dats why there championships teams!! Magic had at least 5 HOF’s on his team !! Kobe did ask for a trade but he ask to go to Minnesota to play wit KG or send me to denver to play with melo!! He ask for dav bulls or clippers bc dey had young talent he culd lead to a title !!! So since Kobe needed Shaq to win ! I have one question if lebron wins title will people say he wuld have never won it without wade anutha superstar ? And let’s not forget bosh ain’t a scrub either!!!

      • gmen4life33 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM

        Lebron chocked last year (in the finals only). Everyone knows that. Yes, he should have won last year. But that was the first year he had a REAL team around him. If he had that Lakers team he would have won rings just like Kobe, may be not as many, but my point was saying Kobe has 5, Lebron has 0, is a little misleading. Now stop making me defend Lebron, I hate him

    • 808raiderinparadise - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      He’s more so hinting at Shaq and his supporting cast had to be built to do all the things Kobe refused to do to help his team … rebound, assists, defend and play multiple positions and guard multiple positions.

      Of course he got 5 rings, but come on Kobe is prob the most talented offensive player ever, and perimeter game player, but after that it ends.

    • camnellum12 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      I’m a Laker fan, but to say Kobe is miles ahead of LeBron based on rings is asinine. NBA titles are a TEAM accomplishment, don’t pin them on players like the MVP award.

      • thestudiokida - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        Great comment. It’s been so long since I’ve heard common sense on PBT that I started to forget what it sounded like.

      • teambringitstrong - Jun 19, 2012 at 5:12 PM

        What else would you base it on? I mean Kobe won with Gasol for crying out loud. The guy who would be king couldn’t even do it with the MDE.

    • acmilan1986 - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:14 AM

      I was just about to say, Phil wants Kobe to choke in the 4th? After being in the league since 2003 and still not having a title. I think Phil would have had a heart attack if Kobe choked as much as LeBron does. But all lay by the wayside to Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever play the game.

  2. gmen4life33 - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Ok we get it Phil, you want to coach MIA, and if not them, then OKC. Everyone gets it. Stop doing interviews and hinting that you would return “under the right circumstances for the right team”. You want to coach one of the two elite teams, and which ever one loses the Finals will prob be calling you right after its over. Mission accomplished.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      He might very well end up in OKC after Brooks foolishly turned down that contract extension.

      • gmen4life33 - Jun 19, 2012 at 4:06 PM

        yup. Losing team is going after Phil if they are smart

    • therealhtj - Jun 19, 2012 at 4:11 PM

      Phil Jackson in OKC? No chance in hell. PJ don’t do podunk.

      • smoothaswilkes - Jun 19, 2012 at 4:41 PM

        you mean like Montana?

  3. 808raiderinparadise - Jun 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Phil could sleep on the bench and do a better job than Spoelstra, the film room puppet of pat riley.

    Spoelstra started Dexter Pittman … do I need to repeat that?

  4. rodge1 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    cantonbitch13 was defending Phil Jackson as the best coach on a past article and now he’s ripping Phil. Typical troll looking for attention. Kobe has rings thanks to the good supporting casts he’s had each time. Kobe also demanded a trade a few years back. But you conveniently forgot about that didn’t you cantonbitch13? Typical troll. Where is Kobe now? That’s right, he’s watching the game from his home.

    • tundragator - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      Last i checked Lebron has had some decent supporting casts in his day. And before everyone starts howling, let’s remember, Gasol was a good player in Memphis, but it was only AFTER playing with Kobe that he began to be acclaimed as the “most skilled” big man in basketball.

      • mikejd12 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:24 PM

        Decent is the key word you used there. Look at the last 5 championships. All teams have a great supporting cast, not just decent. Most skilled is a big word i dont know what media show used that. But I dont think Gasol is the most skilled big man in basketball.

      • 6thsense79 - Jun 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM


        If you believe what you wrote then you must have just started watching the NBA a few years ago. Gasol was a franchise player for the Memphis Grizzlies. When he was traded to the Lakers I seem to remember the sentiment being the Lakers reloaded on another championship. Clearly Gasol had already established himself as a force in the league well before playing with Bryant.

    • mikejd12 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      HAHAHAHA rodge1, glad someone else sees cantonbiznitch is just a pure hater on everything and everyone.

  5. starship7 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    And that’s were Kobe will be every year until he retires, sitting home watching the finals. He can forget about tying or passing Mike in the 6 championship category.

  6. riccismiles - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Was this article written by one of our “steller” high school seniors? This is a “published” article in today’s world?
    Well, ok, with the ignorance of our writers notwithstanding, IF LEBRON played like KOBE, perhaps we wouldnt be watching him try to win his first ring. Kobe, Jordan, Magic, Duncan..BIRD all have rings because of some inner issue that Lebron lacks. Having Kobe play like Lebron would mean removing at least 3 rings..

    • wfon1 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      ok ricci, you beat me to it. cmon Kurt! spell-check, proof read, something! dam!

  7. tundragator - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Also don’t get this article’s misleading title. Phil wanted Kobe to play like Jordan AND Scottie? Little unrealistic. Article title makes it sound like Kobe wasn’t good enough to do what Lebron is doing; in reality, Kobe was wired more like Mike while Lebron is wired more like Pippen.

    • mikejd12 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      Different types of players, thats why they cant be compared

  8. rodge1 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:27 PM


    If Lebron had Kobe’s team, Bird’s team, or Jordan’s team, he would have rings by now.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      Not with the mindset he has, although to his credit, he’s shed it (by all appearances thus far these playoffs).

      • dal24la - Jun 19, 2012 at 11:07 PM

        Mr. Wright 212 is right, You could have switched Lebron and Kobe for all Kobe’s championship teams but if he would have played mentally soft and passive like he did last year in the finals and in 2010 in Cleveland he still would likely be ringless. He also would need to have a better jumpshot (midrange) to take advantage of having a great big man.

  9. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    I love when Phil does this ha. He doesn’t even have to coach the Lakers to motivate Kobe.

  10. rajbais - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Any editing issues, Kurt?????

  11. fnc111 - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:50 PM


    Go hire an editor. Your last paragraph is simply a horrible display of bad grammar and typos. Yikes!

  12. labratre - Jun 19, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Phill Jackson + Lebron……… Not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, do I need to go on. U fools know! This would be h straw that breaks the camels Bach. If they get Phil, even with that team they have now, it’s OOOOOOOOOOOVER!!!!!!!

  13. labratre - Jun 19, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Don’t hate!!!!

  14. thacloser86 - Jun 19, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    cantonbound13 Obviously your a Kobe fan but if you know anything about basketball you know Phil Jackson is the reason he have those rings ya big Dummy smdh

  15. thacloser86 - Jun 19, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    How many rings Kobe have without Phil and how many does Phil have without Kobe the ones that’s saying Phil is out of line dating that needs a reality check ASAP

  16. teachmehowtostasche - Jun 19, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    If the game was close Shaq and LeBron on the same team. All you would need to do is find that one or two players that see no time and foul one of those two guys! I don’t see it!

  17. thomaskouns - Jun 19, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Phil is saying what every NBA scout has been saying about Kobe for the last decade.

    • dal24la - Jun 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM

      It’s sad kinda. I know Kobe has 5 rings but I feel like my fav player could have had even more success if he would try to be more of a point guard. He definitely has the talent.

  18. thomaskouns - Jun 19, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Phil is saying what every NBA scout has been saying about Kobe for the last decade.

  19. Miami305 - Jun 19, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Jackson to Miami fo sho!

  20. foozeball - Jun 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Everyone keeps talking about how great kobe’s supporting cast is. Did MJ not have the BEST supporting cast in nba history? I mean they dropped two games and still made it to the east finals without him. Come on

  21. isujames - Jun 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    ^ No he didn’t silly,I know nothing about Jordans’ era fool.

  22. chicagosworth - Jun 19, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    The man has more rings then he does fingers, listen to the man.

  23. uptmonsta - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    Lebron had 2 of the top 15 players on his team last year and blew it. Give Kobe that talent and they win it. And no Bynum is not a top 10 player and Gasol hasn’t been one for 10 years.

  24. 11jlacy - Jun 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    The zen master has spoken my good people.

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