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Phil Jackson's $75,000 fine for comments about a possible lockout shows NBA's heavy handedness

Ljtnzbnc Usually at this time of year, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson scans the playoff landscape, plants a dig at an opposing team's star player and hopes the officiating adjusts.

The risk-reward usually falls into two categories. It can help plant psychological doubt in that player, but it usually comes with a fine for questioning the NBA's officiating. It's usually worth it considering any fine is a small fraction of Jackson's salary and it could give his team a competitive edge even before tipoff. But this year, Jackson and the Lakers each have drawn $75,000 fines for comments that had nothing to do with questioning league officials.

Jackson gathered with a small group of traveling Lakers beat writers last week at a hotel in Portland, where he spent 80 minutes talking about big-picture issues, such as his impending retirement, his storied coaching career and his take on the season. Naturally, a question was posed on whether a possible lockout factored into his decision to retire after this season.

"It was really about the fact that there's going to be a lockout," Jackson said. "It's the perfect time to help the organization cover a gap if there's a lockout. My staff, all those guys who work with me. All those things played into it. I felt like an obligation."

"Who knows what the NBA is going to look like next year?" Jackson continued. "It's going to take on a whole different proportion. How long is it going to last? I think there are some people who are pretty convinced there's not going to be a year next year."

The fact it took the NBA a week to deem the comment offensive was bad enough. The fact that it's deemed offensive at all is even worse. It's unfortunately not surprising.

The NBA issues fines for everything it finds egregious, ranging from players' accumulating technical fouls to criticism of officiating to Kobe Bryant's recent anti-gay slur.

I think fines were warranted for all three circumstances, but the fact that the NBA assesses penalties of such tiny amounts compared to players' salaries, and at the frequency with which police officers hand out traffic citations at the end of the month, reveals a pettiness that just alienates players and coaches from the league offices even more. In this case, the fine is beyond petty. It's not even warranted.

Jackson's comments simply stated something that's hardly a secret. The league office, the 30 team owners and players' union have a collective bargaining agreement that expires June 30, 2011, and both sides indicated they're nowhere close to an agreement. The sound bite could surely read "Jackson says definitively that there will be a lockout," but the context of the quote surrounding that statement makes it very clear that Jackson's pointing to the mere uncertainty of next season that makes him uneasy about coaching even longer. That's why Jackson remained  careful with his words after practice Friday at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo when asked about the fine.

"I'm not going to answer that question due to anything I answer will probably be another fine," Jackson said. "So I'll just lay that out there. I don't think I said anything wrong. I believe the question led into the statement I made and I used the wrong term. So that's all I'll say about that. But no one feels good about the action that [ensued] except [NBA Commissioner] David Stern, probably."

Knowing how the league reacted to Jackson's initial statement, it wouldn't be surprising if the NBA took offense to Jackson's subtle dig at Stern. Doing so, however, would only validate Stan Van Gundy's tongue-in-cheek contention that Stern runs the league like a dictator, an argument that took on a life of its own when Stern then responded, "We won't be hearing from him for the rest of the season."

It's unlikely the same will apply to Jackson, who's adamant about speaking his mind. Besides, it's the playoffs. This is the time when Jackson receives angry phone calls from the league office. Unfortunately in this case, Jackson would rather it had come with the benefit of planting a mind game in an opposing team's star player than over a petty issue that isn't worth anyone's time. 

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Phil Jackson. Credit: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Comments () | Archives (18)

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Pay attention to the prototypes underneaht each blog post regarding the various bios on Laker players. It's a cool touch we're adding to the blog

Posted by: Mark Medina | April 15, 2011 at 08:01 PM
Nice touch...but what happened to it already?

LRob - One of our web editors will add those in the posts.

Playoff Predictions

Western Conference
Lakers 4-0 over NO – bad matchup for the Hornets even with DWest.

Dallas 4-3 over Portland – Dirk & JT are better finishers than Aldridge and Gwallace. Henry Abbott writes that take Dirk & JT are better closers than Kobe and those five rings are overrated.

SA 4-3 over Memphis – Z-Bo and co. will push the Spurs to the limit.

OKC 4-1 over Denver – A healthy Lawson, Affalo and Mozgov and this series would be tight. Felton will back up his talk with a good series, but the Nuggets won’t be able to slow Durant (Kmart…I don’t think so) or Westbrook. Karl says they would’ve got swept with Melo.
Lakers 4-2 over Dallas – Cuban finally gets the Lakers in the playoffs, but the moment is too big for him and he gets kicked out his own arena in game 6. Blake earns his keep with good defense chasing JT around.

OKC 4-2 over SA – The door is officially closed on the Duncan era. After the blow out lost in gm 6, Pop has the shortest press conference in playoff history as reporters are terrified to ask him any questions. Tony Parker starts planning his exit strategy.
Lakers 4-3 over OKC – Lakers survive another tough gm 7…and OKC vows to get HCA in 2012.

Eastern Conference
Chicago 4-0 over Indiana – These two teams are close in proximity only.

Miami 4-1 over Philly – Doug Collins deserves credit for reviving the 76ers, but they’re in over their head against the Heat.

Bos 4-2 over NY – Best 1st rd series in the East. Celtics still have enough defense to slow the Knicks when it counts. After elimination Stoudamire says KG is softer than Pau and he'll be rooting for Miami.

Orl 4-1 over ATL – Some tough games, but Orlando gets it done in crunch time. After his team lack of execution, Larry Drew looks like he's aging faster than Clinton, Bush and Obama combined.

Chi 4-3 over Orlando – the Baby Bulls are growing up! Frustrated with his teammates…word gets out that DHoward tweeted Kobe after the game.

Miami 4-2 over Boston – Doc says they still haven’t lost with their starting 5 and the fans vote to trade Danny boy.
Miami 4-2 over Chi. Thibs D make life tough on Bosh, but DWade and Lebron proves that two superstars are better than one.
Lakers 4-2 over Miami – Finally Stern gets his Kobe vs. Lebron matchup two seasons too late. Phil is suspended for game 1 for complaining that Kobe’s doesn't get the same calls as Lebron/Wade’s. Benny Adams vehemently disagrees. Riles wish they had suspended Drew instead as a healthy Bynum has his way with the Heat frontcourt.

Sonny Belfast enlist Jesse Ventura to prove the finals was a Stern conspiracy.

LRob, I like your predictions except for one. I like the Bulls coming out of the East, setting up a historic and appropriate final Finals for Phil. Should be a great playoff season, with lots of really good matchups.

Anita Bryant----1977
Kobe Bryant----2011

Fine, shmine...who cares?...Let's just get the playoffs started already.(LOL)

Glad to read that Drew is ok and ready to go.


@LRob and Magic Phil:Glad y'all enjoyed 'AWB', those guys were truly one of my all-time favorite bands from that whole 'funk' era.


Since I'm still feelin' a lil 'funky' Imma stick with that theme with this next group who are still performing nearly 40 years later. The first track has gotta be one of the funkiest tunes's definitely my favorite...enjoy!


Let's go Ls...all the way to a 3-peat!!!!!

I almost forgot, I think this might be a good theme song for the Ls as they enter the playoffs...enjoy!


Let's go Ls...all the way to a 3-peat!!!!!

Anita Bryant----1977
Kobe Bryant----2011

Posted by: RED`S LOVE CHILD | April 15, 2011 at 08:55 PM

Add Kevin Garnett---2008

Is there a governing body for any other professional sport that's as heavy-handed? I wonder what exactly is in the current league's agreement, that allows them to so completely surpress free speech. And, once the contract runs out - how would they still have any powers of enforcement?

On a completely different not, I've posted one of my sporadic Searching for Slava bits of nonsense. Anyone who's bored on a Friday night is welcome to stop by and ridicule.

Great stuff LRob...

But I think we meet da Bulls in the Finals...

Lakers 4-2 Baybee...

#18 Coming Up!!!

Can you say QUAT-ROW

Didn't the NBA just announce they are cancelling the Las Vegas Summer League and not inviting interns into the League office this summer because of the inpending lockout?

And now PJ is fined for stating it could happen? (as he scratches head pondering this)

Should the NBA staffer who released that memo be fined as well?

pfunk: I have an interesting equation too.

Kobe Bryant - Phil Jackson = 0 rings
Michael Jordan - Phil Jackson = 0 rings

I would luv to see lakers win another championship and when they recieve the throphy-nobody shakes the hands of STERN.

Concerning P Jackson's 75K fine, the NBA aka No Breathing Association 'cause nobody could even breath w/o getting fined.

I would luv to see lakers win another championship and when they recieve the throphy-nobody shakes the hands of STERN.

Posted by: hoid nozas |

He'd probably fine them all.

How about charging Darth Vader, $75.K for his seats at Staples during the playoffs. Or better yet, don't allow him in!!!

I hope that when Jackson does retire he goes all out and says as many bad things as he wants about the NBA. Do interview after interview telling what he thinks and feels and really lets loose. Then The NBA cant fine him...unlesss....Jjackson still wants to be apart of the league then maybe he shoudlnt do that then...but then...if he is going to retire and is not going to work with the NBA, then go all out...let loose.....after he retires say all the things he wants to say....tell all the things he wants to tell.....

Charles Barkley said that Adrian Wojnarowski is rolling over in his grave. Or, he should have after this action and Woj's recent article about how evil Stern is.

I really don't understand the fine at all. So many have covered this issue and it's never been made known that you can't discuss the issue. Phil saying a lockout will occur didn't even reflect negatively on the NBA.

I suspect that a memo was sent to NBA front offices that they aren't to mention that the there will be a lockout or make statements that could affect a potential lockout. This statement doesn't affect a lockout, but I guess a corporate whore like Stern might see it that way.



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