The start of the (Phil Jackson edition) weekend mail
Okay, how’s this for a plan?
Not very much mail this week, at least not yet, and since I have this odd sense of obligation to have something here every day (yeah, I’m working on changing that for the summer), let’s do this:
Here’s a solid query right off the bat and then …
All The Phil Jackson Questions You’d Ever Want To Read; and All The Phil Jackson Questions I’d Ever Want To Answer.
And since it looks like a nice, slow, sit-on-the-deck kind of day (and if that deck was a cottage overlooking a lake as the sun set it’d be better) more questions are welcome and we’ll be back tomorrow.
Q: Lots of news lately to take us away from the court or the chosen field of play. I don't follow sports for the game re-cap and have no interest in the vacuous talking heads.
I read or listen to informed opinions of well connected professionals who offer opinions based on information from direct sources who provide insight to areas where I have no access. I appreciate a thoughtful unbiased opinion.
I'm having difficulty defining who is responsible when the pendulum swings out too far to the general public opinion. Who is accountable? Do corporations push their talent too far or does the talent believe they have corporate backing to push the envelope to the extreme?
Strange times, indeed.
Johnny C, Mississauga
A: Strange, yes.
I think there is a bit of shared responsibility for the emergence of “instant experts” for the lack of a better expression.
I think there are too many young people in our craft who are too hellbent on becoming opinionated too quickly; they don’t realize that you need context and nuance and knowledge gleaned over time to really make valid points. They “talk” without thinking because they think it validates them. And, sadly, too many of them do that without taking the time to really listen.
But it’s also on bosses – at every level – as well. There is this strange desire to create personalities far, far too early. Not sure if it’s because there are simply not enough old heads on staffs anywhere to let people grow into roles rather than have them pushed into them.
It probably gets to what Dwane Casey once referred to (and I don’t imagine he was the first) as the “instant coffee” nature of the craft these days, everyone knows everything right off the bat when in fact they know little, or at least less than they should.
I am fully of the opinion that there are too many declarative statements made by people who would know better if they were more interested in informing rather than telling.
(And now, our continuing series in weekly Phil Jackson question, in which we play what-if until something remotely real happens)
Q: Doug, I have two hypothetical questions:
First, if a legendary NBA coach (let's call him Ilphay Acksonjay) became the president of an NBA team in an out-of-the-way location (let's call them the Aptorsray) and announced a master plan to make that team a force to be reckoned with, how much impact would his "aura" have on the perceived attractiveness of that team to free agents? Would players and their agents be leaping onto the bandwagon of the master plan, or would it still be all about dollars?
Second, if all of the championship teams and perennial contenders previously coached by Ilphay Acksonjay, across more than one franchise, had been built around a fanatically driven superstar (let's call them Ichaelmay in one location and Obekay in another), would you expect Ilphay Acksonjay, as president of the Aptorsray, to start clearing cap space so he could pursue a similar player? And in your view, what current NBAplayer would best fit that profile?
Mike D, Toronto
A: I’m going to suggest that any “aura” the guy you’re talking about might have as he takes the very first front office position of a career that’s been spent entirely on bench won’t mean squat unless it can aurally (is that word? Know what I mean?) change the current NBA salary cap rules. Yeah, a guy like that might get guys to listen; if he can’t pay them, he may as well be blowing smoke.
It takes about four years, maybe three, to clear the kind of cap space you’d need (don’t forget, if you clear so much that all you’re left with is a garbage roster who wants to join it anyway?) so to even hazard a guess is, well, beyond me.
But since most great young players are already locked – and Chris Paul isn’t coming in the fall – why not suck it up for half a decade and try to get the Wiggins kid when his first contract runs out.
That way the tank-proponents can have four years of relishing in defeat.
Q: Hi Doug
I know there have been rumours linked Phil to the Raptors. Is the speculation that he would replace BC? My fear would be that great players and coaches does not always translate into success at the next level. Look at MJ in Charlotte. I know Phil is a great coach, but he also had very good talent to work with. I just wanted to get your thoughts on Phil in a management position in general.
A: Yes, that is the speculation, indeed.
Now, I no clue what his management abilities would be, no one does. He might be great, he might be Michael Jordan, he most likely would be like every other GM in the history of pro sports: Successful in some of his moves, something less than successful in others and an abject failure in others.
It’s a crapshoot, just like every hire.
Q: Hey Doug.
Funny random stat of the day: Sebastian Telfair plays only 13 games for the HOTH and – still – comes in 2nd for team assists. Solid.
I think if Phil Jackson comes to the Raptors that there will be a lot of pressure to, maybe, I don’t know, let him run things he’s “Phil Freaking Jackson.” Then again, chimps don’t have teeth.
I just think it would be kind of cool to have him in Toronto because I remember growing up and watching the Bulls and Phil’s championship with MJ.
Can you please tell me more about what you think could happen with the Raptors team if Mr. Jackson decides to come on board?
A: I think they would become marginally more relevant in the media and a bit of a story for a month or so. But as for what they would or would not become on the court, unless he can wave a magic wand and resolve some cap issues and has the ability to hoodwink other, more experienced GMs in player transactions, not sure how much of an impact he’d have. Or what anyone would have, for that matter.
Q: Hello Doug.
What do you think about Phil potentially taking an advisory role with the Raptors but with a little more power than a Wayne Embry? I think that Jackson would bring much credibility to the franchise in attracting better talent and potentially a new GM that will bring a fresh perspective to the team. I would be in favour of keeping Casey because I think stability within the coaching ranks is needed and I think Casey is a good coach.
Do you not think Jackson would be the perfect person to usher in a new era in management in Toronto and potentially facilitate the “winning culture” that Leiweke desires? I don’t imagine that a team that had Jackson in a managerial role, with all the great assistants he could bring, could do worse than missing the playoffs these last five years, no?
A: I don’t think much of it at all. If you’re going to hire a guy, hire hi and give him real power. And wouldn’t Phil Jackson – and we’re absolutely guessing here – be a “new era in management” on his own?
And who knows if they could make the playoffs once in five years; you’d think they could but no one could say with 100 per cent certainty they could or would.
Phil Jackson might turn out to be R.C. Buford, the gold standard. He might turn out to be Michael Jordan.