One of the more curious aspects of this year's playoffs has been Phil Jackson's transformation from "master coach" to "old guy who yells at referees and throws pretzels." That's not to say the Lakers aren't well-coached anymore or anything, but nobody's been writing any stories about Jackson's superhuman abilities to motivate his players lately.â†µ
Jackson's not just staying cramming socks in his mouth and staying quiet, though--he just recognizes that he's probably done enough coaching on his players, and that he should just go ahead and let them be very tall and very good at basketball. Besides, as previously mentioned, the Zen Master has more pressing needs, like coercing the officials into giving the Lakers favorable attention. Recall, if you will, his assertions before the first round that Kevin Durant was getting "superstar calls." Then this:â†µ
Jackson had grinned when asked on Friday if it’s tough for the Lakers to prepare to face Nash, the reigning NBA skills champion, because of the Suns guard’s frenetic style.â†µ
"Yeah, because you can’t carry the ball like he does in practice," Jackson said, making a gesture of palming the basketball. "You can’t pick that ball up and run with it."â†µ
This may not be as much of a winner as Jackson's previous tactics; while Kevin Durant was subdued in the Thunder-Lakers series
since it takes a chainsaw attack to get a whistle in the paint during the playoffs on account of the Lakers' size, it would be hard to imagine Nash getting travel calls (for, according to Nash, the first time in his career) during this series.
If that does happen, however, it will be the most damning indictment yet against the theory that the refs are intentionally fixing games at David Stern's behest. Sound counter-intuitive? It shouldn't, because fixing games requires a certain measure of competence; that type of competence has yet to be on display this postseason, and referees overreacting to Jackson's not-so-subtle request for travel would be the best evidence yet that the refs just aren't very good at their job.