Here’s some of what Lakers coach Phil Jackson had to say today about former assistant coach Kurt Rambis, who brings the Minnesota Timberwolves to face the Lakers on Friday night for the first time since he became their coach last summer:
Question: What’s it like to go against a former coach?
Answer: “You try to bust ’em really hard, give ’em no quarter. No, it’s nice to see this team starting to play well. They got over the hump, so to speak. I’m warning these guys not to take them lightly.”
Q: Is there an emotional aspect to the matchup?
A: “We’re both professionals, so it will be easier to go through this. You look at the team and you hope his players perform well and they do a good job and learn what they’re trying to learn out there. They are (running the triangle). They’re still running the single guard and giving their young guard a lot of open opportunities but they still run their offense. They’re doing a good job.”
Q: Kurt had a lot of opportunities to coach elsewhere. Did you support his decision to go to Minnesota?
A: “Whatever he wanted to do, I was supportive of it. There were a couple of them that were rumored. I was hopeful last year that Chicago would have been an opportunity. Then there was the Sacramento job and the Minnesota job. Except for the fact that it’s cold up there and it’s a whole different climate, and Kurt has been a Californian his whole lift, it’s going to be a good fit for him, I think.”
Q: What advice did you give him?
A: “He’s learned everything. He doesn’t need any advice. He saw all the mistakes I made over the years, I’m sure. You just have to be yourself. You have to follow your instincts.”
Q: Have you talked to him much?
A: “We text back and forth. I think he’s got his head on his shoulders as far as the record goes. He knows this is a team that has to grow and however they grow and whenever they do it this year is important. It’s not one week or one month. It’s a season-long project. … You’re going to learn some sleep when you’re a head coach. You have all those things you want your team to do better. The big key is not to get worn out by losses or depressed by them. That way you can keep your team active and keep them going. I think he’s done that.”