Phil Jackson pokes fun at NBA and Kevin Durant for outcry over officiating charge
In a conversation that has gone back and forth as quickly as ping pong, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson quickly served up another volley of pointed comments toward Oklahoma City guard Kevin Durant that he hopes will result in an ace.
This past week, Jackson explicitly charged on two separate occassions that Durant received favorable treatment from officials and would be the NBA torchbearer "based on the calls he gets," suggesting that his league-leading 30.1 points per game mostly benefits from his league-leading 840 free-throw attempts. Those comments then drew a $35,000 fine from the NBA.
Informed, or perhaps reminded, that Durant considered the comments "disrespectful," Jackson didn't mince words. Instead of hurling insults about Durant's game, Jackson responded with flattery. But the tone reminded me of instances when someone reacts negatively to a prank, only to be chastised because of their perceived overreaction.
"I really don't know what he was upset about," Jackson said of Durant. "It wasn't that upsetting. He shot the most free throws in the league. He made the most free throws in the league. He shot the most shots in the league. He made the most shots in the league. I voted for him on the All-Star team. He made the All-Star team. We know he's a great player. Congratulations."
Bottom line, Jackson is having fun with this and we're only happy to facilitate. Lakers forward Pau Gasol even had in on some of the fun too, but more on Jackson's fine than anything about Durant. In fact, El Spaniard spoke highly of Durant, saying "he's been playing really well." I just hope Gasol doesn't draw a fine himself for saying the "referees treat him already like a superstar just his third year in the league" because it really spoke in spirit to how Durant's driving ability creates contact and draws fouls, not because of preferential treatment.
Then again, as Jackson reminded us, you can always write off those fines as tax deductions. "That was a gift to the NBA charity," Jackson said, laughing. "The NBA Cares. They really care a lot about ... I've got to get out of here before I start something."
Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org