San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would have to be included in any conversation regarding the NBA's best coaches, and if it was up to Phoenix Suns' point guard Steve Nash, Popovich would reside at the top of the list.
An argument can certainly be made on Popovich's behalf, and his four NBA championships stand as a testament to his coaching brilliance over the course of the past decade.
Nash's statement must be understood in context though, because his words were a direct response to a statement made by the one coach who could supersede Nash's endorsement of Popovich.
Los Angeles Lakers' coach Phil Jackson questioned Nash's tendency to palm the basketball in his penetration to the rim, and Nash responded in kind by saying Popovich, the best coach in the NBA, didn't have a problem with him traveling.
This is a familiar ploy from Jackson as he often publicly highlights a nuance from an opponent which he feels could be used as an advantage against his team.
Jackson's tactic is a way to draw the officials' attention to his cause in hopes they will be more sympathetic to his complaints during the course of a game.
You have to appreciate Jackson's techniques, and Nash's response may turn into an example of Jackson's motivational skills as well, because there is no other way to take Nash's words.
One could say Nash was disrespectful, and there are few people who could reasonably take his statement at face value when it's held up to Jackson's sparkling resume.
Jackson is the NBA's winningest coach in the postseason by percentages, wins, and championships and when he has been paired against Popovich, the Lakers have won more than they lost, especially when it mattered.
Nash may be the best Canadian to ever play in the NBA, and he is definitely one of the more intelligent point guards in the league, so it's a little surprising he can't remember 10 is more than four.
That's 10 NBA championships for Jackson, and Nash may have made the push for number 11 more urgent, which could prove to be disastrous for the Suns, because it's not like the Lakers weren't motivated already.
The Lakers' consecutive losses to the Suns in the postseasons of 2006-2007 left a sour taste in the mouths of many Laker fans, and it may stand as a low point in Kobe Bryant's career.
Those two series losses were Bryant's first as the undisputed leader of the Lakers' team, and despite a subpar roster, much of the blame for the defeats fell on Bryant's shoulders.
Bryant was crucified in the media, and in 2007 whispers emerged that he had given up on his team, so this year's playoffs represents a great chance at redemption from those accusations.
Nash's words will undoubtedly be viewed by Phoenix fans as another example of the tough attitude which has become the Suns' "signature," while Nash's bloodied face from the Spurs' series has been the evidence.
Well, I can't take anything away from Nash because he is tough, but his team will have to prove they are just as resilient, and they will have to do it against a team who is much better.
The Lakers are a better team, and despite what you have heard to the contrary, the advantages Los Angeles holds dwarf any challenges that the Phoenix Suns could present.
There are some who point to the Suns' depth, and the talent on their bench, but in my opinion, the Lakers' reserves will unveil their best performances in this series.
The tempo Phoenix plays, and the fact they mostly disdain defense means, the Lakers will have numerous scoring opportunities in the open court, regardless of who is in the game.
There is enough athleticism on the Lakers' bench to serve as a counter to the Suns' reserves, but it won't likely matter, because the series will be won by Los Angeles' top six players.
Nash would have an edge in any match up with Laker point guards, but after him there is not another player in Phoenix's starting five who holds a distinct advantage over their Laker counterpart.
Nash and Amare Stoudemire are the most talented members on the Suns' roster, and the Lakers have players just as talented as Nash and Stoudemire. In fact, their players are better.
The Lakers' boast two legitimate seven footers in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but their value is not limited to their length alone, as they are two of the more fundamental big men in the playoffs.
Bynum is less than 100 percent due to a knee injury, but Lamar Odom changes the variables in the Suns' defense because of his ability to shift between the paint and the perimeter.
Throw Ron Artest in the mix and you have a battle of what has arguably been the 2010 NBA postseason's best offense, and what has definitely been the postseason's best defense.
But the Lakers' defense is real and something which has been sustained on a consistent basis, while Phoenix has only recently garnered their acclaim on that end of the court.
But honestly, can the Suns' defense hold up to the relentless assault Los Angeles will wage in the paint, and are Grant Hill, Chris Dudley, and Jason Richardson really the guys to prevent Bryant from having a stellar series?
The Lakers and Suns will clash tonight in the first game of the Western Conference Finals, and Nash's words will certainly be a back drop to whatever transpires on the court, despite what Alvin Gentry said.
Gentry, the Suns' coach tried to dismiss Nash's statement by saying he wouldn't enter into a battle of words with Jackson because it was something he could never win.
Gentry said Jackson was a master at mental techniques and this may be true, but what Gentry doesn't understand is Nash's mouth may have already written a check his ass can't cash.
The Lakers have better talent than the Suns, they actually play defense, and they have a championship pedigree which was nurtured by the best coach to ever roam a NBA sideline.
You don't have to take my word that Jackson is the NBA's best coach, and you don't even have to trust his resume, but if you still have doubts after this series, just ask Steve Nash.