Phil Jackson rarely liked comparing Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan.
But with his upcoming memoir titled “Eleven Rings” going on sale next Tuesday, well he’s gushing plenty about the two stars he coached in two separate stints with the Chicago Bulls (Jordan) and Laker (Bryant). And when he appeared Thursday night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jackson devoted plenty of time in further dissecting the similarities and differences.
“They both have this competitive zeal that’s unmatched,” Jackson said. “You tell them to run through a wall, and they’ll say how deep, how wide and how high and everything else. They’ll go through the wall. However, the competitiveness for Kobe stops at the end of the basketball court. He’s not competitive anymore. Michael wants to race you in the car and beat you in ping pong. He wants to beat you in cards and wants to beat you in golf. All those things. He’s competitive all the way through. Their game. Michael had these incredible hands where he could take the ball, show it to a guy and get him off his feet. That alone was a difference maker for him as a basketball player. A little better shooting percentage. A little more consistent with the type of game he’s going to play. A little more into the team system. Kobe didn’t have all the schooling. Dean Smith, who he had at North Carolina, taught Michael a few things. Both of them championship players, no doubt about it.”
Jordan has six championship rings to Bryant’s fifth, but Jackson’s preference for Jordan goes beyond the trophy count. Jackson considered Jordan a better leader, more disciplined scorer and better defender. But with Bryant fielding endless comparisons to Jordan early in his career, Jackson arranged a one-on-one meeting between the two stars.
“His mannerisms were so like Michael that I would say don’t try to take over this game like Michael Jordan would. Wait. He said I’m not trying to do that. You’re disrespecting me. At some point, Michael comes in and I say, Let’s meet in a chairman’s room after the game at Staples. So we meet. First thing he does, he sits down and says you know I can beat you one on one right. So Michael said, listen you can stay inside the offense. The offense is great. Then in the middle of the fourth quarter, last nine minutes of the fourth quarter, you need something extra, bring out your stuff and do it. Phil always told me score 14.”
To the chagrin of the countless Lakers fans chanting his name at Staples Center, Phil Jackson won’t coach the Lakers again.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear Mike D’Antoni will return to coach next season. Even if the Lakers changed their mind, Jackson said he wouldn’t replace him anyway.
“No I think I’ve had my shot there,” Jackson said in an appearance Thursday on The Tonight Show to promote his upcoming memoir titled “Eleven Rings.” “But I have people in mind who I think can take that job. I’ve got assistant coaches who work for me who’s pretty good at that.” Continue reading →
This is the thirteenth and final part of a series grading the Lakers’ efforts on the 2012-13 season.
Lakers front office
The Good:You can’t fault the Lakers for the offseason moves they made. Despite punitive luxury taxes on the horizon, the Lakers scoffed at the NBA’s new labor deal and devoted a $100 million payroll in hopes to secure another NBA championship (it also helps to have a lucrative deal with Time Warner Cable). But the Lakers have never been just about throwing money at players. They’ve been good at securing top level talent through smart and calculated risks. They somehow flipped the trade exception stemmed from the controversial Lamar Odom deal into acquiring Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns to a three-year, $27 million deal. The Lakers provided a happy ending to the “Dwightmare” saga by acquiring Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic in a four-team, 12-player deal that only involved Andrew Bynum going to Philadelphia 76ers and Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga and a flurry of draft picks to the Orlando Magic. And, by the way, they did this while keeping Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace.
The Lakers may have been pretty limited in bolstering their bench. Yet, they somehow did that too. They acquired elite secondary scorer Antawn Jamison to the veteran’s minimum ($1.4 million). The Lakers improved their three-point shooting by getting young gunner Jodie Meeks. They re-signed some reserves with promising futures (Jordan Hill, Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris). Continue reading →
No other man possessed the greater perspective regarding the endless debate on Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
Phil Jackson used to go to great lengths at avoiding the topic, out of reverence for both of the stars he coached in separate stints with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls. But he hardly holds back in his upcoming book, “Eleven Rings,” co-written by Hugh Delehanty and available next Tuesday.
“Even Jordan has said that Kobe is the only player who can be compared to him, and I have to agree,” Jackson wrote. “Both men have an extraordinary competitive drive and are virtually impervious to pain. Michael and Kobe have both played some of their best games under crippling conditions – from food poisoning to broken bones – that would sideline lesser mortals for weeks. Their incredible resilience has made the impossible possible, allowing each of them to make game-turning shots with packs of defenders hanging all over them. That said, their styles are different.”
Still, it’s clear through Jackson’s 339-page book who he’s favoring.
“Michael was more charismatic and gregarious than Kobe. He loved hanging out with his teammates and security guards, playing cards, smoking cigars, and joking around,” Jackson said in the book, which was obtained in advance by this newspaper. “Kobe is different. He was reserved as a teenager, in part because he was younger than the other players and hadn’t developed strong social skills in college. When Kobe first joined the Lakers, he avoided fraternizing with his teammates. But his inclination to keep to himself shifted as he grew older. Increasingly, Kobe put more energy into getting to know the other players, especially when the team was on the road.”
Early in Bryant’s career, it seemed he felt otherwise.
Jackson recalled Bryant telling teammates he wanted to win 10 NBA championships. Jackson also described Bryant as “hell bent on surpassing Jordan as the greatest player in the game.” So much that Jackson revealed Bryant said in his first meeting with Jordan, “You know I can kick your [butt] one on one.” Continue reading →
This is the twelfth in a series grading the Lakers’ efforts on the 2012-13 season.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni
The Good: The Lakers’ 28-12 mark to close out the regular season correlated with the team’s health improving in Pau Gasol (knees, feet) and Dwight Howard (back, shoulder). But it also coincided with D’Antoni featuring both of them together and allowing the Lakers to play at a slower pace. Although it’s fair to wonder why this didn’t happen sooner, D’Antoni deserves some credit for eventually catering to his personnel instead of forcing his up-tempo system onto a veteran-laden roster.
Such change traces back to when the Lakers had an air-it-out meeting late January against Memphis. D’Antoni prompted the meeting because everyone from Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison directly and indirectly criticized how he was coaching the team. This ranged from his insistence at playing at too fast of a pace, Gasol coming off the bench, not using the post-game enough and of course sitting out some players such as Jamison for unknown reasons. Team accounts say that meeting became a breakthrough because it allowed everyone to openly express their grievances in hope that everyone will eventually solve them.
D’Antoni would get overly emotional at times, but he also never lost his fight and will to make things better during never-ending adversarial situations. That ranged from having no training camp after replacing Mike Brown, significant injuries to Steve Nash (fractured left leg) and Steve Blake (lower abdominal) and handling competing agendas among players. D’Antoni should also be credited for helping reserves, such as Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks and Darius Morris, something Brown failed to do. Continue reading →
This is the eleventh in a series grading the Lakers’ efforts on the 2012-13 season.
Player: Chris Duhon
How he performed: Averaged 2.9 points on 38.2 percent shooting and 2.9 assists through 17.8 minutes in 46 regular-season games; averaged 5.5 points on 36.4 percent shooting and 3.5 rebounds through 34 minutes in two playoff games
Verdict: Duhon was nothing more than a throw-in as part of the Lakers’ deal that brought them Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic. But he suddenly was asked to do more. A slew of injuries to Steve Nash (fractured left leg) and Steve Blake (fractured left leg) thrust him into the starting lineup for nine games where Duhon averaged 6.9 points, 5.4 assists and a 42.1 percent mark from 3-point range. It also helped that Duhon thrived under Mike D’Antoni in New York, averaging a career-high 11.1 points on 42.1 percent shooting and 7.2 assists. But Blake’s return in late January and D’Antoni’s want for a tighter rotation pushed Duhon out of the lineup.
Grade: C. Duhon could hardly match the void Nash and Blake left with their respective injuries. But Duhon fulfilled his role always in a professional manner, regardless of whether he was on the court. It’s likely the Lakers will buy out his $3.5 million contract by June 30th. Continue reading →
Kobe Bryant and an auction house that wants to sell memorabilia from his high school days and early pro career are heading for a trial in Camden, N.J., next month, unless they can work out a deal before then.
U.S. District Judge Renee Bumb set June 17 as a trial date, but also set a court-guided mediation session for Friday in a case that’s the manifestation of an ugly family dispute that all sides seem to want to resolve quickly.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com
As a reminder of both the Lakers’ star power and the challenges the front office faces dealing with a bloated payroll, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol rank among Sports Illustrated’s list of the 50 highest-earning American athletes.
Kobe Bryant ranked fourth overall with $27.85 million in salary and $19 million in endorsements. Dwight Howard finished 31st with $19.5 million in salary and $2.4 million in endorsements. And Pau Gasol slid in at 37th with $19 million in salary and $2.1 million in endorsements. Continue reading →
Don’t read this while you’re at the breakfast table. It might cause you to spit your cereal out or choke on a piece of toast.
Providing yet another reminder of the severity of his torn left Achilles’ tendon, Kobe Bryant tweeted out a graphic picture on Instagram receiving surgery on it exactly a month ago.
Bryant’s come a long way since then. He arrived at the Lakers’ practice facility Tuesday to receive treatment on his Achilles, an injury the Lakers believe will keep him sidelined for at least another five to seven months.
Former Lakers forward Mark Madsen, who was introduced Tuesday as the new D-Fenders coach, also spent time at the facility catching up with Bryant.
“His injury was a freak thing,” Madsen said. “The one thing I know about Kobe is if they say he’s going to get back in nine months, he’ll get back in six months. If they say it’s going to take five months, it’s going to take 2 ½ months. That’s the type of dedication and professionalism that Kobe approaches this game with. I’m excited for him to get healthy and excited for him to come back.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lakers assistant coach Steve Clifford plans to meet with Charlotte Bobcats officials next Monday and Tuesday regarding their vacant head-coaching position, according to a league source.
Clifford had interviewed Monday with the Milwaukee Bucks for their head-coaching spot, according to league sources. No offer was made and a follow-up interview wasn’t immediately scheduled. But Clifford could still be in the mix. According to one league source, Milwaukee also interviewed Nate McMillan and Houston Rockets assistants Kelvin Sampson and J.B. Bickerstaff.