Phil Jackson expresses amusement over Steve Nash's rebuttal, Kobe Bryant says he feels fine
The latest storyline entails Jackson's charge that Phoenix guard Steve Nash carries the ball, an accusation Nash countered by saying, "The best coach in the league, Gregg Popovich, didn't have a problem with it last week," in reference to Phoenix's sweep over the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals. Jackson took the comments in stride, adding "Popp's a great coach, there's no doubt."
Clearly, Nash handled Jackson's needling much better than Oklahoma City guard Kevin Durant, who Jackson said before the Lakers' first-round series with the Thunder that the league's leading scorer receives preferential treatment from officials. That comment led to the NBA fining Jackson $35,000 and Durant speaking at great length on how he considered the comments disrespectful, and Jackson later chastised Durant for his reaction. Even though Durant's on-court demeanor suggested he wasn't actually rattled by the talk, he eventually grew tired of answering questions about Jackson. And even if the mind games didn't throw Durant off, Lakers forward Ron Artest held him to 25 points a game on 35% shooting.
Aside from Jackson's explicit attempt at gamesmanship, he's actually been largely complimentary of Nash, both for his success in playing through a swollen right eye in Game 4 against San Antonio and how his playoff-average of 17.8 points and nine assists a game make him a dual threat.
"Steve has a great skill in quarterbacking his team," Jackson said. "A lot of the balls are in his hands and he always has a lot of decisions to make."
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant didn't appear in as good of a mood as Jackson, a stoic demeanor he's demonstrated all week. There's really nothing newsworthy in the video below, other than Bryant's contention that "I'm fine" regarding his right knee, left ankle and fractured right finger. But it shows that he's wearing a game face.
Meanwhile, Lakers forward Pau Gasol reported he's in good health after battling sinusitis earlier this week.
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Photo: After Lakers Coach Phil Jackson suggested Phoenix guard Steve Nash carries the ball, Nash responded in jest that San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich is the league's best coach. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images