Caught in the Web: Kevin Durant fires back at Phil Jackson's suggestion he benefits from officiating calls
It looks like the plan has already started to work. Considering Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has been largely complimentary of Oklahoma forward Kevin Durant and was on pace to finish with the league's scoring title, I wondered if the Zen Master himself considered Durant to be the NBA torchbearer.
"Yeah, by the calls he gets,," Jackson told me about Durant, who leads the league in free-throw attempts (840) and is tied with LeBron James for attempts per contest (10.2). "He really gets to the line a lot, I'll tell ya."
Well, Durant didn't seem to appreciate the sentiment one bit, telling The Daily Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry he considered Jackson's comments disrespectful.
"That’s a part of my game, getting to the free-throw line and being aggressive," Durant told Maryberry. "If you say that I get superstar calls or I get babied by the refs, that’s just taking away from how I play. That’s disrespectful to me. I don’t disrespect nobody in this league. I respect every coach, every player, everybody. I never say anything bad about anybody else or question why they do this or do that. So for them to say that about me, I don’t even want to use no foul language.”
Of course, this is vintage Jackson, who typically uses the postseason to set the tone on how games will be called. I'm not oblivious that there is a general give-and-take between coaches and officials, but I don't exactly buy that these comments influence how referees call the game. I do buy, however, that it can influence how Durant will approach the postseason. And those comments suggest Jackson did the trick. We'll find out for sure once Game 1 starts on Sunday.
More Lakers links after the jump
--The Times' Mike Bresnahan explains why the Lakers lack momentum heading into the playoffs, after ending the regular season with a 107-91 loss Wednesday to the Clippers.--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding seconds that notion, saying the Lakers are limping into the postseason.
--The Riverside Press Enterprise's David Lassen explains the Lakers continue to stay concerned about the team's health.
--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford details why Lakers Coach Phil Jackson doesn't like how the team's playing entering the postseason.
--The Times' Bresnahan has an injury update on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Lakers center Andrew Bynum.--The Riverside Press Enterprises's Lassen highlights Jordan Farmar's successful effort to play in all 82 regular-season games, even if it entailed a 1.3 second appearance in the season-finale.
--The Daily News' Teaford also focuses on Bynum's recovery process.
--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande argues the Lakers enter the postseason with the biggest question marks.--The Orange County Register's Ding predicts Bryant won't win the league MVP this year.
--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin previews the Lakers-Thunders matchup.
--The Times' Lisa Dillman reports in the Fabulous Forum blog that Lakers forward Lamar Odom liked how Lakers forward Ron Artest played this season.
--Dillman also showcases the refreshing candor Clippers interim coach Kim Hughes provides.
--Forum Blue and Gold argues the Lakers responded to Vujacic's injury by playing not to get hurt.
--Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore expresses concerns about the Lakers' injuries.
--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky detail Sasha Vujacic's severe left ankle sprain as well as Ron Artest's attempt to persuade the media he didn't remember which ankle he twisted.--Clips Nation's Steve Perrin believes the Clippers season-ending victory over the Lakers will prove to be more valuable than "5 or 6 ping pong balls."
--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell has a running diary of the Lakers' season-finale.More Lakers links:
--Fox Sports previews the Lakers-Thunders series.--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper anticipates an exciting first-round matchup.
--Ball Don't Lie's Trey Kerby grades how Artest and Lakers reserve center D.J. Mbenga look with their golden bleached hair.
Tweet of the Day:"If healthy I like the Lakers over the Thunder in 5 - but Lakers aren't healthy - because of that they're vulnerable. Should be interesting." -- EricPincus (Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus).Photo Caption Comment of the Day: "Vujacic and his Figure Skating partner suffer an agonizing fall during off-ice warm-ups." -- Ryan Kane
Reader Comment of the Day: "Did anyone else notice the Lakers looking at their watches wondering if they could go home and start thinking about the Thunder about mid way through the second quarter? For the chicken littles and nay sayers out there, I don't think anybody's heart was into trying to beat the Clippers." -- Jolly Rancher
Photo: Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, right, suggested Tuesday that Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant gets favorable attention from the referees. Credit: Elise Amendola/ Associated Press; Christian Petersen/Getty Images.