The Greatest Choke in NBA History...or Just Really Poor Coaching?

Chris HesterSenior Analyst IJune 12, 2008

How does this happen?  How could this happen?  This didn't just happen did it?  Not to this team.

The Lakers have arguably the best coach in NBA history AND one of the greatest players to ever lace a pair of sneakers.  How could a team with those two "elite" NBA guys allow their team to collapse like this?

First I would like to place the blame on Mr. Bryant and his lack of leadership. 

Once the Celtics started making a comeback it seemed as if Kobe decided to try and lead by taking over the basketball.  This is NOT what the Lakers needed.  They needed someone to step up, get the team together, and go back to playing the type of ball that gave them the 24 point lead they were in the process of blowing.

How many times, as a leader, could you allow Sasha to be exploited on the defensive end of the court without getting him some help?

How many times, as a leader, do you allow Lamar Odom to simply vanish into thin air during a time of need?

Where was Kobe?  Where was his MVP leadership?  How could he not grab his team, get their heads on straight, and try to get the team to take a collective deep breath?

Was it completely Kobe's fault?  Obviously not. 

You have to give credit to Boston for fighting and clawing their way back into the game and never giving up.  It would've been easy and almost understandable for the Celtics to just pack it up in the first half and start thinking about game 5. 

Doc Rivers did not allow this to happen.  Doc kept telling his guys that they couldn't come back all in one possession.  Do not get out of the game plan.  Just keep doing what we do and we will be fine.  And his guys believed that.

Where was Phil Jackson during this time?  What happened to the "Zen Master" and how could he allow this to happen?  How could one be considered one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and continue to allow his team to make mental mistakes?

Now I know, a coach can only do so much.  He can't go out there and play defense and make shots for his team.  What he can do is run a defense that may stop the other team from taking the ball straight to the basket any time they wanted.

What he can do is remind his team that this is the NBA FINALS and no lead is large enough.

What he can do is get his "bigs" to actually post up, take the ball to the rim, and give an effort to rebound occasionally.

Phil Jackson was flat out out-coached and the Lakers showed everyone their lack of heart and passion.  Something like this can't happen. 

This can't happen on the biggest stage your sport will see.

This can't happen in a "must win game."

This simply can't happen to a team with Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant.

Or maybe it can.  Nice season Lakers, see you guys next year.