By: Shawn Davis
There are going to be some teary eyes come this fall. The NFL is in the midst of a labor dispute and now joining them in the madness is the NBA. Of the two sports, I absolutely believe the NFL could return to start games on time because the owners and players union are aggressively trying to hammer out a deal. After a hiccup a few days ago, both sides have dug in with all-night bargaining sessions (with plans to rekindle them next week). A positive cloud seems to be hovering over their labor dispute.
As for the NBA…well, they cannot afford to lose any games. After a regular season that brought in some of best headlines in years AND a postseason that garnered some of the highest ratings since the Jordan era, they need to get their mess sorted out. When they had the lockout of 1999, fans didn’t return until five years later, but an argument can really be made that they didn’t return until this years playoffs (leading to the ratings bump). It would be a shame for all the momentum they’ve held to come to a halting stop but it just might happen.
Just imagine when the weather turns, the air conditioner is turned off and it’s time to sleep under the down-comforter again and the top two American sports are still at the negotiating table; scared? You bet! If that happens, I’ll have to actually clean and talk to my friends/family and I don’t want to do that! Do any of you? Yeah, don’t lie. I’m more of an NFL fan than an NBA one so losing basketball won’t bother me that much. Honestly, if football is lost I might shut down emotionally.
No more labor crap for me – it just makes me want to plug my ears. I wanted to shed some light on Phil Jackson’s career. There isn’t anything I can say in this space that hasn’t been said already. We know about the titles, how he’s coached some of the greatest players in the sport, his playing career with the Knicks and his coaching days in the CBA, working with the amazing Tex Winter on the Triple-Post Offense (better known as the Triangle), etc.
He’s been famous for buying his players books to get them to focus on things other than the court while also challenging them mentally. As a master strategist, he deployed methods to get under the skin of the opposing coach while wearing a sly grin the entire time.
My love for basketball was forged by watching the Chicago Bulls run through the 90’s. Jackson pulled every string to challenge Jordan in a way that no coach could to get him to trust his teammates and believe in them (he then replicated it when he got Kobe to do the same). Jackson walking away from the NBA is sad but there’s nothing left for him to prove. If I had the genetics and was able to be an NBA player I’d love to play for Jackson or Gregg Popovich.
During the time the Bulls climbed to relevance in the mid-to-late 80’s and dominance in the 90’s, there was turmoil going on in my personal life. My only respite, at all, was watching them play. For me, he’ll always be more a Bull than a Laker but his impact and mark on the game cannot be understated.
Detractors point out that he coached Jordan, Pippen, O’Neal, and Bryant, that’s true but I guess that Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach had scrubs on the floor when he won 9 titles! Talent helps but you have to be able to manage personalities and those same players have to be open to having their games critiqued.
My love for basketball is tied to him so I wish him all the comfort and happiness in the world.