I read some article the other day (on a website that I won't mention on cbs) that alluded to the fact that Phil Jackson is letting his team down and being outcoached by Rick Adelman. Now, I will admit that Phil needs to do a better job of helping his team to defend the pick and roll, but his strength has always been in the management of players. There's something to be said for having a certain mental mindset to be able to go out and win games -- particularly in the playoffs.
Jackson has the highest winning percentage in NBA playoff history and is tied for the most championships with Red Auerbach not just in basketball, but in American team sports history. His pundits are quick to point out that he had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal. Well, I am quick to point out that Michael Jordan NEVER won a championship without Phil Jackson. One would argue that Jackson came along at just the right time, during Jordan's maturation, to capitalize on his success at the top. Well, Jordan himself has said that Phil Jackson taught him the importance of being a leader, of incorporating his teammates, and of trusting others to help him reach his goals. Because Kobe Bryant wants to be Michael Jordan so bad, he will say the same thing when his career is over. Shaq is quick to dog every coach after he leaves the team, but in Phil Jackson's first year, he made it clear that the team would run through Shaq and NOT Kobe. The result? 67 wins, Shaq's first and only NBA MVP award, and the Lakers' first NBA title in 12 years. The guy knows a little basketball too.
So, sit back and watch tomorrow night, just as Phil will be sitting back and watching. Everybody always wants to know what he is doing, there's something to be said for sometimes knowing what NOT to do. As they say, the best decisions are the ones that you DON'T make sometimes. Phil understands that leadership is about confidence and success and he is secure enough in himself to take a step back, let his players play, do his work behind the scenes, and continue to win.