Phil Jackson's daughter Chelsea is quoted in the upcoming issue of Sport Illustrated that she think her father will call it quits.
‘I think this is it,’ Chelsea says. ‘I think he’s done now.’
After 11 championships, there is almost nothing left for Jackson to attain. His health is a serious issue, as he appeared lethargic at times on the bench and unwilling to expend extra energy off the bench. Call it Zen, or call it fear of clogged arteries, the grind of travel and practices and games and media attention has clearly taken its toll. By missing the parade in downtown Los Angeles - the most stress free part of the whole season - to get to a doctor's office says that he most likely had been postponing his doctor's visit for some time. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the first message he got after the Lakers won was from his doctor telling him to get to his office ASAP.
On the court, the Lakers drifted away from Phil Jackson's system as the NBA Playoffs wore on. There was a constant struggle between Phil's System of the Triangle Offense and Kobe's System of the Ego of One on One Basketball. They finally reached a compromise: When Kobe brings the ball up the court, he can go one on one and stray from the offense, as long as 75% of the time, someone else brings it up and they get into the triangle.
As we charted the possessions throughout the playoffs, Kobe's freelancing percentage grew. By the end of the finals, Phil was surely uncomfortable with the ratio of Kobe's shots versus the triangle, as evidenced by his 5 for 20 shooting through the first 3 quarters.
If this persisted, the Lakers would not have won the championship. And Jackson could see his grasp of the team slipping away to his superstar. Through a combination of mental mistakes by the Celtics and clutch shots by players not named Kobe, the Lakers were able to claim the championship. What must worry Jackson most is that by winning, it reinforces Kobe's mentality as someone who must shine above the team.
In Chicago, Jackson was able to witness the metamorphosis of Michael Jordan moving from a Kobe-like scorer to a true facilitator, who was able to raise the team above all else and achieve transcendent heights. With a watered down league in 2010, Kobe is able to win despite his inability to blend his talents with his teammates. Either he goes one on one, or sits back and sees what his teammates can do. After 14 years in the league, it is clear Kobe will not and cannot learn the balance. Worse still, he has been rewarded for this lack of balance to the tune of 5 championship rings.
As Phil Jackson assesses the season, it is clear his health is a major factor. But throw in the notion that he will never fully reach Kobe Bryant, and will constantly struggle to get him to buy in to the system, and you have an untenable situation. Jackson must also be concerned that for the first time, his system wasn't the thing that prevailed. The triangle offense did not serve its purpose of blending unique talents together to form a strong and cohesive team. Rather than 5 fingers on a hand moving in sync, it turned into five separate pillars doing their best to hold up the roof.
Had Kobe mastered this, there is no question Jackson would be willing to risk his health for one last Three-Peat. But after his team lost its balance, and STILL won, he is ready to throw up his hands and wonder what else he has left to teach. If the students don't listen and still get an A, it's time for the teacher to find new students.
For video evidence of Kobe's inability to run the triangle, CLICK HERE.
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