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NBA Finals Media Day Highlights: Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and more!

The Lakers and Magic met the talking/typing/recording heads for the annual Finals Media Day this  afternoon on the Staples floor, and while there were plenty of people around, it wasn't quite the circus of last year's event.  It certainly wasn't the spectacle of, say, Super Bowl Media Day, where star players field marriage proposals.  

Sure, there was that security gSasha and Guillermo_001uy from the Jimmy Kimmel Show asking if he could give Luke Walton a hug and dishing with Sasha Vujacic in Spanish (left), but other than that, nothing much out of the ordinary.  Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Phil Jackson (among other luminaries) spent time at the podium.  No big revelations (far as we know, Kobe is still starting, for example) but if nothing else, the time it takes to read gets you that much closer to Thursday's Game 1 tip. 

Click below for the highlights.

BK

PHIL JACKSON:

Q.  What does it mean that you lost two games to those guys?  Does it mean anything going into The Finals?

PHIL JACKSON:  It means we have a great deal of respect for them as far as a team.  They played very well down the stretch in both the games to win the two games they played against us.  Obviously those are mitigating circumstances; we had different people in the lineup, they had different people in the lineup.  It was four months ago, but it certainly gives us a great deal of respect for them.


Q: What keeps you going... In terms of motivation?

PHIL JACKSON:  It's really about the momentum of a season.  You know, you get caught up in this day‑to‑day life that we have where your schedule is pretty much determined from October until summer.  You know, you get onto it, and there's something about it that you learn over a behavior period, I think, of years.  I think it's going to be hard to get away from it, personally.  I know I've done it twice, and I know one year, the asterisk season, and they didn't start playing until February, and the other year I went to the South Pacific and got away from the basketball game simply by dissolving the presence of NBA ball.

            But yeah, it's something that's been in my life for 40 years.

Q.  Are you guys preparing for the possibility that Jameer Nelson could play for the Magic during the series?

PHIL JACKSON:  We haven't really gotten to that level of personnel, as to the guard personnel, and obviously we're looking at Howard as a power player inside.  But we're still identifying it as positions more than we are as individuals.  Jameer brings another level of game to their team, but we respect Johnson, also Alston, as players.  Someone has got to do their job for them, and Jameer is going to come in and do it if he does.  He'll just bring another specific thing to something they do that's an execution skill, and they've got guys that do things specific to their game.

Q.  I know you're not going to want to discuss your strategy in detail, but obviously they've been running the video back and forth.  Just in general what were you trying to do when you defend them?  And apparently it wasn't a spectacular success, so can you just talk about that?

PHIL JACKSON:  Well, they have a lot of options in their offense that are look alikes, with the same end result hopefully, that one, they're going to get either a lay up or a power play down low or they're going to get a three point shot at the outside.  They have a lot of options in their offense around that.
    Confusion is one of the things that you want to eliminate when you get into a series, and there's definitely going to be some confusion in Game 1.  You hope you accumulate data and you can kind of go out and start adjusting.  But in the first game obviously we made some defensive mistakes.  In the second game I thought we did a better job.  They hit some really big shots coming down the stretch.

Q.  How much did losing to the Celtics push this team this season?

PHIL JACKSON:  You know, I think that at any level once you have a taste of what it's like to be here just as a motivating factor, as much as it is just to be standing, just to be left with that feeling of, you know, we're the only ones here and everybody else is home on vacation, and at this particular point with all the tension when you get to this level and don't lose    or don't win, and you lose, you go home and you think about it a long time.  It's something that is certainly a motivating thing for us.  It certainly pushed us.

Q.  Kobe has downplayed the idea of the importance of winning a title without Shaq.  Do you feel like winning a title as the leader of a team, is that something that's important to him and something that could be special for him?

PHIL JACKSON:  Yes, but I think if you take any team, San Antonio, winning without Robinson, David Robinson for Tim Duncan, I think it's just another evolution.  It's not specific about the individual; it's about how we made the adjustments to get to the place where we're at.  I think that's important, and I think it's important that a person gets a chance to win.  I think that's what it is all about.

Q.  You kind of alluded to this, obviously Orlando has no Kobe, but with that inside outside game of theirs, are they a little similar to your Shaq Kobe team?

PHIL JACKSON:  Their spacing obviously and their dedication to what they want to get accomplished I think is very similar.  You know, obviously the three point shot has taken more of a prominent place, I think, in their offense than the early Shaq teams did, although we used the three point effectively with Rice and Fox, Horry and other guys that were three point shooters that were on that team.
    This team is really dedicated to three point shooting, and one of the top two or three teams in the league shooting that shot.


KOBE BRYANT:

Q.  Can you talk about obviously you and Fish have been here before, but just you guys adjusting to being in The Finals for the first time last year and also how did you feel when the Celtics got eliminated and the possible rematch died?

KOBE BRYANT:  I think everybody here was pretty calm, just ready to roll.  We've been through this hoopla last year.  I think a lot of it was obviously new to everybody, guys that haven't been there before.  This time around just kind of know what to expect, just be ready to go.  Didn't really think much about the Celtics being eliminated.  We were dealing with our own more with the Houston Rockets.  Didn't really have time to kind of sit back and see what was going on in the Eastern Conference at that time

Q.  How much have you thought at all about the fact that this might be your last run with Phil, with his future unresolved, whether he's going to go on past this year, especially if you win?  And how much do you think it's meant for your career playing for Phil that he had coached Michael and understood, maybe learned some things coaching Michael that's helped him coach you?

KOBE BRYANT:  I try not to think too much about it, just try to focus on the task at hand, which was one of the things that he's taught us all, me in particular because I played for him the longest, along with Derek.
    I think him having coached Michael probably helped our situation a little bit.  He's been around the block before.  I'm just honored to be coached by the best coach of all time.  It would be a tremendous honor to be on the team that can get him that tenth championship.

Q: Starting with the Olympics, the All Star Game and the regular season, has this been up to this point your most rewarding season as a player?

KOBE BRYANT:  I'd say it's possible.  It's been a hell of a year, winning a gold medal and making it to The Finals last year.  We didn't win but we gained valuable experience.  Being on that Olympic team, building the friendships we built there, coming back to this season and having the season that we've had up to this point, it's been very rewarding.

Q.  Would all that go to waste if you don't win?

KOBE BRYANT:  In my eyes, yeah.  This is what I play for all summer.  All I thought about was the Olympics and the gold medal; we were able to accomplish that.  My next goal is winning the NBA Championship, and we don't want to fall short of that.

Q.  How surprised were you that this isn't a Kobe LeBron final?  And were you a little disappointed not to have that challenge?

KOBE BRYANT:  No, not really, not really.  I'm not disappointed at all.  I'm just happy to be in this situation.  I'm sad for LeBron because he's a good friend of mine, but at the same time I'm happy for Dwight.  You just kind of move on and do what you have to do with your ballclub and just go from there.

Q.  Post Shaq what's it mean to you to get the Lakers back to a championship level?  And do you think in your own mind that you need to win a championship for your legacy without Shaq?

KOBE BRYANT:  Not at all.  It means nothing.  To me it's about winning another one, just because I want to win another one.  People think Shaq would have won a championship without me on that team, they're crazy, you know what I'm saying?  We needed Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Ron Harper and everybody else, as well.  I'm not worried about that at all.

Q: I know it's maybe not so difficult for you anymore, but how as a player do you not treat The Finals differently given the magnitude and everything, even though that's sort of the cliché, that it's the same, you go out and play and all that?

KOBE BRYANT:  You prepare.  I can't step up my preparation because I prepare as much as I can all the time.  The focus is going to be there.  At the end of the day it's just basketball.  It's just adding all you guys around.  It's the same ol', same ol'.  If you're willing to deal with the criticism that you guys might write, it's just basketball.
 
Q.  That's why the experience matters so much to have been there before?

BRYANT:  Yeah, it's just like the hoopla of this whole situation might have been a little bit different for some of the players on our team last year because it's a whole new thing, just seeing the magnitude of everything.  This time around I don't think so.  I think we understand that it's a game.  It's a game we've been playing for many, many years, and you've got to go out there and do what you do best and leave it all out on the floor.


PAU GASOL:

Q.  How much better prepared as a result of that for this year's Finals as a team than you were last year?
   
PAU GASOL:  I think we're in a better place this year overall.  I think that our run to the playoffs this year has helped us to be a tougher team.  It brought us together as a team, as a group, and it made us    really made us appreciate where we are and how hard we worked to get here, and the experience obviously of last year throughout the playoffs and especially losing The Finals I think also made us grow as a team.
    Overall I think we're in a good place.  We like our chances.  Obviously Orlando is playing extremely well, and they deserve and earned a spot in The Finals and a chance to fight for the championship.  But obviously we'll contemplate our options and try and figure out what can we do to beat them.

Q.  As far as your match up defensively it would appear that you would play some post defense against Dwight and also be responsible for running out in the perimeter some chasing Lewis.  How would you describe that as far as it seeming like kind of a difficult role for you?

PAU GASOL:  It's going to be a lot of work.  It's going to take a big focus on my part to be able to flip the switch every time I change match ups and I change players, coverages.  But it's a big challenge, no doubt about it, to guard either player, because they're both really good players and they present so many different looks to you.  It's going to be hard, but I look forward to getting it done and being effective against them and helping our team.  That's all I want to do.

Q.  You guys won 65 games this year and you put the West away early.  In the middle of the playoffs was there some sense of, we're not the team we were, and we'd better get it back quick?

PAU GASOL:  Well, in the series against Houston it was tough.  I think we realized that by showing up we're not just going to win.  We're going to have to play extremely hard and give our best to beat a team that they might be shorthanded but they're competing as good as anybody, that's competing extremely hard, especially at their place.  We were totally unable to get into those games and give ourselves a chance even, those games in Houston the last two games.
    I think that that was kind of a wake up call for us, that we had to change things up and really focus on what we needed to do as a team.

Q.  Obviously Game 4 wasn't a real good effort, but Game 6 seemed like you guys did give it an effort and they beat you pretty good anyway.  Was that even more humbling?

PAU GASOL:  Yeah, I mean, it's playoff basketball, and teams that you face are high quality teams.  Even though you give your best effort, sometimes a team is still going to beat you.  It's just the way it is.  But at least you know inside of you that you gave it yourself and you gave yourself a shot, that you didn't just give it up.
    It was two different games, you're right about that, and the mentality was a little different.  We were expecting to win that Game 4 easily because Yao went down and we expected them to fold and they didn't.  They came even harder than they did before.
    It was definitely a learning experience, and that's why I think today we are where we are and we'll learn from it, and hopefully it'll be useful until the end of the playoffs.

Q.  What have you guys learned about losing to Boston last year that helped you get back to this point?

PAU GASOL:  I think what we learned the most is that you can't just go out there and see what happens, you know, get a feel from The Finals.  You've got to be really aggressive and go get it.  You've just got to go get it.  Don't expect anything, just play hard and hustle and give your best.  You just can't expect to see what's going on and see how we get to the halftime and see if we have a chance at the end of the game because we're on the road, and we weren't really aggressive.  We weren't like, we've got to win this first game today.  That's why we were just trailing pretty much the whole series.

Q.  On a daily basis how does Kobe contribute to this team getting tougher this season?  I know that was like his mission this summer.  How does that happen on a daily basis in practice?

PAU GASOL:  Well, he's always pretty vocal, especially now.  Now obviously he wants everybody to be focused on what we need to do as a team, as a group, as individuals to have a better chance to win.  Obviously he wants to win this as much as anybody, and I think we definitely can count on him doing his part because he's a great leader and great competitor.  But we all have to step up and we all have to do our job and play our best and do what we're supposed to do out there.
    He's been vocal and he's been doing what he's supposed to do, and it's everybody's turn to do that, too.



 
Comments () | Archives (16)

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We're ready to go! Cannot wait for the next 23 hours to pass already.

I'm flying down to Orlando next Thursday for game 4. Will def represent for the Lakeshow in enemy territory!

As of right now, this very minute, the 3rd best center after Howard and Yao in the NBA is not Bynum nor Kaman, its Pau Gasol. With a sugar loaded LO at PF, at the very least, the tandem will offset Howard and his PF.

And then there's Kobe.

I love Phil but he reminds me of one of those old double-talk comedians sometimes - the words are recognizable but they feel like they've been cut up and put back together in some udefinable way.

Today I got lost and ended up at the NBA store. I bought a sweet Lakers 2009 Finals shirt. Who do you think the three featured players on it are?

Kobe, Gasol and Ariza. I am so happy that the NBA has confirmed Ariza's superstar status!

GOOoooooooOOOOO ARIZA !!!!

GOOOoooOOOOO LAKERS !!!

PS In 53 minutes it will officially be Thursday!!

Guess what game they are showing on ESPN CLASSIC!

game 4 of last years finals....great

{Lakers Secret Agent Jon K. Reporting From Deep Behind Enemy Lines In The Bombed Out Wastelands Of Northeast Ohio. Everywhere Around Me I Look And See Men With Backwards Baseball Caps And LeBron James Jerseys Walking Repeatedly Into Brick Walls And Crying Out "The King Will Save Us!"}

{Analysis: There's no saving this place.}

[Mission: Release the Bio-Chrono Weapon]

[TARGET: Dwight Howard]

Okay... here's how Howard is orientated:

Physical: Howard is physically orientated. This means the tension between comfort and stress determines his physical success.

Emotional: Howard is mentally orientated. This means the tension between trust and distrust determines his level of emotional stability.

Mental: Howard is creatively orientated. This means the tension between social/psychological union and social/psychological conflict determines his depth of mental focus.

Creative: Howard is mentally orientated. This means the tension between belief/faith and disbelief/doubt governs his creative potential and the coherency of his decision-making process.

Analysis: It's a actually a pretty good Bio-Chrono reading, but no human is perfect and Howard certainly is not. Here's how I'd play him.

Physical: Everyone's been talking about how they need to keep Howard from getting his points early, keeping him out of his game and not giving him the space (comfort) to play his game. This is absolutely the best way to play Dwight Howard. His type likes to cruise. They like personal space. They like to have things comes easy to them.

Don't allow any of it. Make them work for it.

This type is interesting because they have a predisposition towards being a workaholic, BUT ON THEIR TERMS. You make them work hard in ways that they don't anticipate (or can't control) and it REALLY stresses them out... and they do not function nearly as effectively. By contrast, they start freezing up. Get Howard to work and work in ways he would not have to expect how to work. That will break down his game.

Emotional: This type is a bit difficult to break down because they are broken down gradually instead of quickly. When they break, THEY BREAK. Seriously, so. But it is not easy to quickly emotionally break them down. Here's the thing... Rashard Lewis and Howard have some inherent personality conflicts. Things are not soft and fluffy between the two on a deeper level. They don't quite get each other. Play on that. When Lewis does something that doesn't make sense or a bad decision or doesn't utilize Howard's position, note it. Chip away at that relationship. Create distrust between the two.

Mental: Howard is a team player. Quite frankly, most people aren't as instinctually a team player as you'd think. REAL team players bristle at this fact. And that bristling really screws up their focus. They become so focused on the "selfish" behavior of others that they lash out at others and undermine the team unity of their own team that they care about so much. (No sarcasm there. They really care about their team, but are also most empowered to undermine that team unity. Strange, but true.)

So, when players make mistakes based upon showing off or selfish decisions or don't utilize the strength of the team... point it out to him. It'll create a suspicion and anger in him that will ultimately lead him to want to punish that player(s) in way that undermines the team's ability to function best as a whole.

Creative: I've for some time have joked about Phil Jackson's psychological coaching style against opponents as "Give them hope... and then take it away." This what will break a player like Howard. Not on a personal level, but on a team level. Shut down his play early, let other players score, and then shut down the team as a whole (including himself) and it will feel like his lifeblood is draining away. It will leave him (unconsciously) embracing the outcome of defeat [he needs something to believe in, even if it is defeat] and his creative decisions will embrace that fact. He'll start to make bad decision/decisions that support failure.

So, take away his positive belief and he'll embrace a negative belief... and he will manifest it.

If you're going to engage in psychological warfare, you might as well use what works. And this works.

WE ARE THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND WE RISE!!!!!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

I don't tweet.

I type. Slowly.

I also like to use proper english, so the whole barfing your thoughts out at the world is a MAJOR turn off.

This is thing is going to come down to Gasol and Howard. We might see Odom back in the starting line up, too. If Bynum isn't effective from the opening tip of Game 1, I don't think God would be able to convince Phil Jackson not to start Lamar and use Bynum in spot minutes against Gortat, There's too much riding on this considering he's 0 for 2 in the Finals, recently. Odom matches up with Lewis MUCH better than Gasol. I wouldn't be surprised if Odom starts in Game 1, with no-one admitting it until the line ups are announced.

Kobe won't be as big a factor as he was in the Western Conference, bigs and defence win championships. Kobe will not get bailed out at the line, so he might stop driving to the hole. If the jumper isn't falling, that basically makes him a Bruce Bowen-type player. He'll lock down Pietrus or Reddick, but won't be an effective scorer. He has to be a better facilitator than Le Bron was. I can't believe I just wrote all that, but it's proven he can be neutralized in the Finals.

Our PG situation is tenous, but if they bring back Nelson, I think it benfits us. If Van Gundy puts Nelson in the game, I believe we will encounter...The Chris Mihm Effect. Remember when Mihm made his way into a Finals game and the Celtic lead bloomed from within reach to bye-bye trophy? Mihm and Jackson were castrated for it. A lack of on the court familiararity can be devastating in an NBA playoff game. I believe the saem thing could happen if Nelson is inserted in the line-up he could well play the Magic into a loss.

This would be a really good time for Vujacic to find his stroke because we'll need some fire power off the pine and Odom isn't a legit 3 point threat. He can make 'em, but when Sasha is hitting he really stretches the floor.

The keys to victory, in my opinion, are Kobe getting to the rim and (hopefully) getting a whistle or two, Gasol's ability to defend Howard, and the bench.

I still like our chances, but it won't be done any sooner than 6 and I'm feeling an epic game 7 waiting in the wings.

GO LAKERS!!!!!

{Lakers Secret Agent Jon K. Huddling In The Dark Wet Wastes Of Northeast Ohio, Waitiing For Tomorrow: Redemption}

[Mission: A Quick Summary Of Rashard Lewis's Bio-Chrono Reading]

Physical: Confidence versus insecurity

Emotional: Expression versus emptiness.

Mental: Respect versus disrespect.

Creative: Peace versus internal discord.

Playing Lewis:

Physical: Undermine his ability to develop confidence. Shut him down early. His type is all about developing momentum. Don't let him establish momentum.

Emotional: He likes to be free and spontaneous in the way he expresses himself. Shut down that sponteneity. You shut down him.

Mental: Disrespect him and back it up. It will cause him to lose mental focus and probably cause him to lash out as a result.

Creative: His type has a tendency towards narcissism, but also is internally sensitive (though they strive to cover it up) and is very hard on their selves [See Freudian super-ego]. When they screw up, rub it in. You'll be adding to the chorus in their own head and they will self-sabotoge.

WE ARE THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND WE RISE!!!!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

i don't tweet, it is only for the birds.

My Laker flag is now worn out but refuse to replace until we get a Championship in LA. It was given to me in 2004, flown twice but no success. This is the 3rd attempt, I mended the torn parts just to keep it as a reminder of the unfinished job.

Big Observations after watching that game:

1. The team looked lost and confused most of the time, they looked like they had never played with one another
2. there was no execution in crunch time involving pau
3. Pau looked SOO different (the way he plays), I can not stress this enough! The man improved his defense tenfold!
4. Kobe should have gotten the MVP this year and last year. I think he is way more effective this year in making his teammates better and just executing the offense.
5. Lamar is way better this year from last year
6. The team has a better approach to games this year than they did last year
7. I sense much more confidence and hunger
8. Pau gasol wasnt even in the game until like the 6 minute mark?!?! That confused me.
9. The team was very young and most guys did not look like they were comfortable
10. Bottom line, our team has increased its defensive and offensive intensity extremely this season. The team looks very oriented with one another and I can sense the chemistry unlike the team of last year.
11. Lastly, TREVOR ARIZAAAAA! Wow I missed watching him even for a brief 5 min! He adds such a different intensity to this team we take him for granted
12. Bynum is back and the team is healthy

I can't wait until tomorrow!

Everyone enjoy this team because it is special! They are honestly the best team in the NBA right now, and there is no doubt in my mind. I know they will play very well in this series but hope they start it off the right away especially because they play a little rusty after long breaks!


FUTURE CHAMPS!

I'm so excited for these Finals, it's crazy. Let's get number 15, guys!

Jamie Sweet,

Let me get this straight. You want a Bruce Bowen type role for Kobe in the finals so he can be the Peitris and JJ Reddick stopper? Are you serious? While we're at it, let's have Gasol play an Eric Dampier type role and have Phil Jackson play a Del Harris type role. That should do it.



Too bad, Jamie - with your name, it would be a Sweet-Tweet.

My Laker flag is now worn out but refuse to replace until we get a Championship in LA. It was given to me in 2004, flown twice but no success. This is the 3rd attempt, I mended the torn parts just to keep it as a reminder of the unfinished job.

Posted by: Edwin Gueco | June 03, 2009 at 08:58 PM

I totally loved that!

Good morning everyone!

Jon K. - Thanks for the bio-chrono reading. Do you happen to have time to do one for SVG? I'm curious to know if there's a way to affect the coach as well.

Caliphilosopher,

Good idea. I'll do one for Stan Van Gundy this morning.

WE ARE THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND WE RISE!!!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!!!!


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