This is an article from the Feb. 28, 2011 issue
ASPIRING COUCH POTATO
The 11-time NBA champion as a coach—he also won two as a player—has said this will be his final season on the sideline with the Lakers.
Dan Patrick:When was the last time you had a moment like Jerry Sloan's and wanted to walk away midseason?
Phil Jackson: That mood attacks you at times as a coach. You keep beating your head against the wall and keep emphasizing the same message, and it doesn't get through. Coaching is about wills. You have to outwill players sometimes and get them to give up their selfish motives.
DP:Is there anything this Lakers team does better than the last two championship teams?
PJ: They're capable of controlling games with ball movement, size and creating a pace they want to play in.
DP:Are you having fun this year?
PJ: I'm enjoying this year. I'm kind of beholden to the guys. We have a unit that's closely tied together. They connect pretty well. At times they get disconnected. Sometimes a long road trip will do that to a team. They might get sick of each other traveling for two weeks and need a day apart. To come together now is important. Every game is a meaningful thing. You play 82 of them. Seems like a lot, but every one of them has a certain impact on the team.
DP:Your girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, said you can't be a homebody after you're done coaching the Lakers.
PJ: I don't see myself being a homebody. I spent 40 years in basketball. I feel like I deserve a chance to live what I call a "civilian's life"—someone that's not programmed by a schedule and has to play games at night. I want to watch Modern Family. That's what my kids tell me I have to watch.
DP:Do you think Clippers rookie Blake Griffin needs to change his game to develop his career?
PJ: This guy is going to be a multidimensional player. He's not going to be content just doing those twirling, whirling dunks. As his progress goes along, we all hope he does have the ability to monitor when it's important to do that type of slam. There's a reason his knee gave out last year. You can only contort and extend that body so often. Sometimes it's going to get you in trouble.
DP:Did you have to say that to Michael at some point?
PJ: A lot of my friends used to say, "Tell Michael he doesn't have to dunk anymore. He's proven he can do that. Keep working on that jump shot. Someone's going to take him down. It could be ruinous." But in Michael's last three years he was very considerate about monitoring his game. He dunked the ball to make sure it was going to go in. But it wasn't the type that was happening in the '80s.
DP:Paul Silas said Jordan could still average 20 points per game. What do you think?
PJ: He could for a game or two. I don't think four or five games a week. It's a grind. You can't do it at age 37 or 38, let alone 48. It's a long shot, but this guy's remarkable.
DP:Has Michael ever bought you a birthday present?
PJ: He gave me a watch.
DP:He's given you a few rings too.
PJ: I helped him get a few rings too. It's not a one-way street.
DP:Is this your final go-round coaching?
PJ: I'm fully determined to end my career as a coach. Like that?
• Shot Down
Former Celtics great Kevin McHale, an unabashed Rajon Rondo fan, isn't concerned about the Boston point guard's inconsistent jumper. McHale thinks that's one of the reasons Rondo (above) is so effective: "You lay off him, then he has great angles to see," McHale said. "There's no pressure on him. He never turns it over, because his guy is eight feet away from him."
• Save Our Season
Roger Goodell hasn't asked for advice, but here's some: The gloom and doom has to stop. Let's turn to some positive alternatives to an NFL lockout. My audience and I have come up with the beginnings of a plan to make both sides happy: add a second bye week and four more playoff teams to extend the postseason. Owners get their extra weeks of football without putting players through more wear and tear. Is it perfect? No, but we're trying and won't stop until they kick off right on time on Sept. 8, 2011.
• Line of the week
Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, explaining how he didn't think he'd win the race even as he sped toward the checkered flag: "I was like, Well, it would be cool to tell my friends I was leading the last lap of the Daytona 500."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com
1. Dusty Baker on the mystery of Sammy Sosa's corked bat.
2. Kurt Busch discusses how he approaches racing his brother.
THE FINE PRINT: Record number of caution flags at Daytona. This is absolutely the last year that they use a crossing guard.