THE BOOK ON PHIL JACKSON
Coach Phil Jackson strides the boards
of the NBA, not exactly demurely.
Jackson's new book
sizzles with inside stuff
By BUCKY FOX
Maury Allens column last week on Red Auerbach ("Red Auerbach," Nov. 15) was timed as well as a Bob Cousy pass to Bill Russell.
At the center of the discussion was the Auerbach-John Feinstein book Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game.
It just came out, which puts it up against Phil Jacksons opus, The Last Season: A Team in Search of its Soul (Penguin, $24.95).
Auerbach vs. Jackson. Now thats a bookend duel.
Both coached teams to nine titles, which ties them for the record in the National Basketball Association.
This isnt a quiet, respectful balance. Not from Auerbach, anyway. He saw red during Jacksons ride with the Los Angeles Lakers, whose three straight titles locked him in with the Boston legend.
Reds bitch? That Jackson had the luck of coaching superstars: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls and Shaquille ONeal and Kobe Bryant with L.A.
As if Auerbach had it rough with the Celtics. He only had Russell and Cousy, one of the greatest center-guard tandems in history.
Jackson will let Auerbach whine away. The former Laker coach is coasting these days. No pressure from his ex-team, now a .500 bunch that could miss the playoffs. And his book is No. 1 on the L.A. Times best-seller list.
Jacksons Last Season deserves the top spot. His notes on Shaq and especially on Kobe make for as entertaining a read as Feinsteins A Season on the Brink and Jim Boutons Ball Four, which set the standard for sports books.
Some of Jacksons good stuff:
On Kobe: The incident illustrated to me how conditioned I am to find fault with this kid, after everything Ive gone through with him. I suppose the anger is deeper than I imagined.
On Dennis Rodman: The Bulls would never have won their last three rings without Dennis. With his leaping ability and uncanny sense of knowing where the ball would bounce off the rim, he snatched rebounds from taller, bulkier opponents.
On Laker problems: Two weeks ago, we had trouble taking our group picture--our group picture!
On Laker owner Jerry Buss: I have no real clue as to how Jerry ticks, especially his penchant for hanging out with young girls and dancing till three in the morning.
Yelling back at Shaq: I didnt screw up. You screwed up. Im supposed to bail you out after you did something like that?
This book is worth it. Worth the cost and the wait. I stood in line two hours to have Jackson sign it. Thats how packed the L.A. bookstore was, with fans who yearn for the glory days.
Phil, we miss you, I told him.
He smiled and said thanks. He shook my hand, and I had the feeling he would be back fast. Like next season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Detriot: That should be the new name for Detroit after the recent Palace Putsch in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Thats where the Detroit Pistons call home, and there was serious cookin against the Indiana Pacers.
You no doubt saw the rumbles footage. It starred Indys Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson going after fans in the stands.
That was ugly enough. Then came the post-bout commentary. To a man, ESPNs John Saunders, Greg Anthony, Tim Legler and Stephen Smith and Fox radios David Stein ripped the fans!
Yes, the civilians who shell out to make millionaires of Artest and Jackson are the ogres. According to those TV and radio shills, the fans deserved to get pummeled because one dared to throw a cup of beer at Artest.
Ive heard commentators kiss player ass, but this smacks of the lowest form of pandering.
News to those trying to protect NBA players: Pros have no business attacking fans in the stands. Ever. Ever. Ever.
You open that door, and the house of cards called pro basketball could crumble.
Which is why the NBA should suspend Artest and Jackson for the rest of the season.
Kudos to Larry Burnett for recognizing that. While hosting the Laker postgame radio show in Los Angeles, he called on the NBA to throw the hammer at the Pacer culprits.
Throw In The Towel: Hope you saw Nicollette Sheridan in that Monday Night Football pregame show.
Decked in a little towel, she sure beats Hank Williams Jr. in his cowboy hat.
Natch, Sheridans stunning appearance jarred the old sportswriting set. USA Todays Rudy Martzke called it a raunchy stunt. The New York Posts Phil Mushnick called it inappropriate.
Thats consistent. Martzke and Mushnick see cleavage, and cry the end of society as we know it.
At least theyre only media columnists. Then theres Michael Powell, head of the Federal Communications Commission. He had time to worry about Sheridans naked pounce on Terrell Owens, who by the way did a helluvan acting job.
The paunchy Powell always looks pathetic popping off about sex on TV. As a comedian said on ESPNs Rome Is Burning, Colin Powells son would be better served finding his dad a new job.
©2004 by Bucky Fox. The photo, from the cover of Phil Jackson's new book, is courtesy of Penguin books.
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