Blog Entry

Phil Jackson not exactly "there" for Tomjanovich

Posted on: December 2, 2010 11:08 am
Posted by Matt Moore

I have come to the conclusion that Phil Jackson is literally willing to disrespect anyone. You, me, the Pope, the President, your mother, his mother, Abraham Lincoln, Captain America, Jesus Christ, Chuck Norris, anyone. He really just does not care; his first priority is to make sure he maintains his lofty perch at the top.

Maybe the comments were taken out of context. Maybe he was ribbing an old colleague. Maybe it's not as bad as it sounds. But man, it doesn't sound good.

As noted this morning in Shootaround, the Houston Chronicle asked Phil Jackson about Rudy Tomjanovich's nomination for the Hall of Fame:

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that it was "wonderful" that former Rockets and Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich was nominated for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Jackson offered a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement.

Asked if he thought Tomjanovich was deserving, Jackson said, "Well see. I'm not on that committee. I like all the coaches to get a chance to go in."Jackson agreed with the argument that the Rockets championships were tainted because Michael Jordan was out of the league for the first of their title seasons and much of the next."Definitely," Jackson said. "Without a doubt. Clearly, if the Bulls were whole, we would have won. Its pretty much registered by now. When Michael played, we won the championship."
via Rockets notes: Hall remarks about Tomjanovich | NBA Basketball | - Houston Chronicle .

Couple of things here. Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time. No one is arguing this. Phil Jackson is either 1a or 1b in terms of greatest coaches in NBA history. No one's really arguing that, it just depends on "a vs. b" if you're in green or purple. This isn't questioning the greatness of the mid-90's Bulls or the legacy of Phil Jackson nor Michael Jordan.

But straight up, this wasn't necessary.

Rudy Tomjanovich coached for 24 years in the NBA as either an assistant or head coach. During that time he established a .559 winning percentage. He had only two losing seasons during that stretch run, a .567 playoff winning percentage in the playoffs, and oh, yes, those two championships, asterisks or no. Tomjanovich went on to coach the Lakers in a disastrous season while Phil took some time off to go dance or meditate or whatever Phil Jackson does when he's not calling timeouts to coach the best players in NBA history.

Tomjanovich stayed on with the Lakers as a consultant and scout,and that's what's so disheartening about this. Tomjanovich worked hard for the Lakers, despite the fact that Kermit Washington, who broke Tomjanovich's face with The Punch, was a Laker at the time. He always held himself with class and success. And whether Jackson likes it or not, Michael Jordan did retire those two seasons, and the Houston Rockets were the best team in the league for those two years. Furthermore, as great as Jordan was, and as likely as a Bulls victory would have been, to overlook the 94-95 Rockets is to ignore a priceless season from Hakeem Olajuwon who was no slouch, and a team rife with shooters, versatility, and stellar defense. Maybe Olajuwon's Rockets wouldn't have beaten Jordan's Bulls. But it would have been one heck of a match.

Beyond the questions here is the fact that Phil Jackson simply didn't have to say that. He had no reason not to simply say "I think it would be tremendous for Rudy to make the Hall. I respect him as a friend and colleague." It's true that we want coaches to be more honest. But being passive-agressive and not extending common courtesy? It just seems a bit out of line. It took more effort for Jackson to waffle on his endorsement, purposefully, than to simply extend a courtesy to a colleague.

But that's Phil Jackson.

Greatest coach on earth.

Since: May 9, 2010
Posted on: January 2, 2011 1:38 am

Phil Jackson not exactly "there" for Tomjanovich

What about today's imperative to "keep it real" at all times? Wasn't Phil just "keepin' it real"?

Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: December 9, 2010 4:02 pm

Phil Jackson not exactly "there" for Tomjanovich

I think he should just support Rudy.  I'm from Chi-Town and I'm glad that Phil Jackson was the coach when the Bulls won it all.  I agree that had Michael not had those 2 years off when Houston won it we may have 8 championships.  Phil has to say that about himself he would have 8 with the Bulls instead of 6.  Unfortunately that's not how it works.  You have to base it on who was there.  Somebody still had to be crowned champions and Houston went out and done it.  Orlando can say if Nick Anderson hadn't missed those free throws that maybe the Magic sweep Houston.  The reality is that Houston has to championships and Rudy Tomjanovich was the coach. He should go into the Hall of Fame.

Since: Dec 23, 2006
Posted on: December 4, 2010 9:39 pm

Phil Jackson not exactly "there" for Tomjanovich

Michael and Pippen didn't win until Phil arrived.  Shaq and Kobe didn't win until Phil arrived.  So Michael and Kobe didn't win by themselves either.  

Since: Apr 18, 2008
Posted on: December 4, 2010 1:14 pm

Phil Jackson not exactly "there" for Tomjanovich

I like Phil but what did you expect as a response from him. His responses are generally very ego driven and centered around his accomplishments. Along the way their maybe bitterness from him on not receiving enough credit. There is no question he is one of the best and he may continue to question who should be included in the rest. This is what makes him Phil Jackson.

Since: Dec 4, 2010
Posted on: December 4, 2010 9:49 am

Phil Jackson not exactly "there" for Tomjanovich

You know, everyone talks about what a great coach Phil Jackson is.  But has he won a championship WITHOUT a "great" player?  All those championships with the Bulls -- Michael Jordan.  Those championships with the Lakers?  Kobe Bryant.  And while he's gotten those great players/teams over the hump, let's not forget all of the scouts and GMs who put those teams together and all of those assistant coaches who do the heavy lifting.  And Phil Jackson says it himself...if Michael Jordan hadn't retired, the Bulls would have won.  It wasn't Phil Jackson who won those championships, it was MJ.  He still had Pippen and other players, but couldn't get it done.  I respect Phil Jackson, but he needs to be honest with himself.  He's not one of the 3 greatest coaches ever all by himself.  Just like Riley and Auerbach, he had some serious players on the court.  THAT's how that happens.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2010 3:06 pm

Phil Jackson not exactly "there" for Tomjanovich

Well, then I guess we should put an asterisk beside all the Bulls Championships since Bill Russell wasn't playing.  I mean, when Bill Russell plays, the Celtics win Championships.  LOL.  RT should be in the hall of fame!  Bar none.  And he will be there with or without Chump Change Jackson's blessing.

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