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Category: Phil Jackson

Mark Cuban not unhappy with Lakers drama...though he misses Phil Jackson

6a00d8341c506253ef0147e1bfb63c970b-320wi-1Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban heard about the most recent episode of Lakers drama. He's not sympathetic.

"I could care less," Cuban said an hour before the Lakers and Mavericks played Wednesday in Dallas.

The latest: Magic Johnson said Kobe Bryant and Lakers executive Jim Buss needed to meet so Bryant would be more aware of the Lakers' future plans.

"Then if Magic says that, I hope they don't [meet]," Cuban said. "The more drama in other teams' locker rooms, the happier I am. I hope there's incredible drama in 29 locker rooms."

Cuban admitted missing a certain type of drama.

"I miss Phil [Jackson]," Cuban said. "Phil was smart. He was fun to mess with, knowing that he'd come right back, return volley, and I'd return volleys like a good tennis match. The volleys went on and on. They got more intense. I really miss that. I hope he gets back in the NBA. You don't often find the perfect bucket boy."

Cuban and Jackson fenced with each other for more than a decade over a litany of issues.

They started dueling in 2000 when Cuban scolded the Lakers for spending more like the Clippers during a slow off-season. He also said they pocketed profits at the expense of the team.

Jackson replied that Cuban should "keep his mouth shut."

They went back and forth a few years later after Jackson said Cuban was trying to "sally up points" by intimidating referees.

Cuban responded with a blog entry titled "I Own Phil Jackson" and wondered why Jackson mentioned him so often. "How can the NBA coach with so many championship rings find me so intimidating?" Cuban wrote.

Jackson responded that Cuban was "so easy to tweak" and promised to "copyright myself" so Cuban could indeed own him.

Maybe they really do miss each other.

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--Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Dallas owner Mark Cuban has been known over the years for making bold claims to the media. Credit: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Lakers show offensive improvement in 111-99 victory over Phoenix Suns

Summoning his players over, Lakers Coach Mike Brown looked them in the eye and told them to appreciate what they have.

Embrace the grind that a compacted 66-game schedule entails. Relish the hard work that comes with nailing down his offensive and defensive system. Tolerate the fluctuating lineup changes. Block out the "outside noise" regarding what moves the Lakers will make before the March 15 trade deadline. Understand that all of these challenges remain an ongoing effort.

"I knew we were going to get socked on the chin because I didn't have enough time to figure out what I had," Brown said. "So it starts with me. Then, to our guys' credit, they were searching too. I'm not saying we have arrived, because we have not, but we are getting better."

Mike Brown on win over Phoenix

The Lakers  showed that in their 111-99 victory Friday over the Phoenix Suns. They reached their season high in points and reached the 100-point threshold for the fourth time all season. After shooting 37% from the field in the last seven games, Kobe Bryant dropped 36 points on 14-of-25 shooting, including 18 in the third quarter. The Lakers bench combined for 34 points on 13-of-20 shooting. Andrew Bynum showed tremendous ability in passing out of double teams and re-posting en route to 17 points on a seven-of-13 clip.

It remains to be seen whether the old adage What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" will apply to this current Lakers team. The Suns (12-19) rank 23rd overall in total defense (97.32 points allowed per game) and 20th in opponent field-goal percentage (45.2%). The Lakers allowed Phoenix to cut double-digit leads in both the second and fourth quarter, partly because of 17 turnovers. Bryant believes Pau Gasol's 10-point effort on four-of-13 shooting relates to the possibility the Lakers might trade him.

Still, the Lakers' progression leaves Brown confident enough to say that "I'll bet on us in the playoffs." It leads Suns Coach Alvin Gentry to dread the Lakers the same way as when L.A. eliminated Phoenix in six games of the 2010 Western Conference semifinals. It gives the Lakers' players some hope that progress finally feels as if it has arrived.

"For this stretch that we've been on in the first half has been difficult," said Bryant, whose team currently ranks fifth in the Western Conference. "But we haven't had many practices and juggled with the lineup, played two rookies in the fourth quarter on the road and they have to learn on the fly. It's been tough.  I think I'm fairly pleased with where we are at this point."

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Gilbert Arenas reportedly works out for Lakers

Kobe Bryant--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin reports that Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak attended a private workout for free agent guard Gilbert Arenas while the Lakers were in Toronto.  Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowksi and Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick confirmed the news.

Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan explains why the Lakers played so poorly in their 94-92 win Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding focuses on the Lakers' nearly blowing an 18-point lead against Toronto.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford credits Kobe Bryant for his game-winning shot against Toronto.

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan looks at the Lakers' struggles defending point guards.

--The Orange County Register's Ding presents a photo slideshow of his six-game trip.

--The Daily News' Teaford explains why Metta World Peace still has the green light to shoot.

Sidebars

--The Edmonton Journal's Bruce Arthur notices Bryant makes this game-winning shot thing sort of a routine.

--The National Post's Eric Koreen highlights Toronto's late-game unraveling.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Holly MacKenzie details the Lakers' "average" 3-3 trip.

Columns

--The Toronto Star's Cathal Kelly describes Bryant's mannerisms as rude and condescending.

Blogs

--True Hoop's Henry Abbott argues Bryant kills crunch time.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky breaks down the Lakers' victory over Toronto.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell provides a running diary of the Lakers-Raptors game.

--Silver Screen and Roll's C.A. Clark argues Bryant's game winner against Toronto rectified his poor play earlier in the game.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Zephid breaks down the good, bad and the ugly in the Lakers' win over Toronto.

Tweet of the Day: "Fans got Kobe & Bynum right 4 All Star. Asked Phil why coaches got it wrong not adding @paugasol. He said they must like small ball." -- JeanieBuss (Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "In terms of the Lakers down the stretch, I want Kobe take game-winning shots in the final minute or final seconds, but he starts going into Mamba mode in the last five minutes of a game, which is way too early. He wants the ball on every possession down the stretch in the final five and that's hurting the Lakers. It's completely predictable by now. When they trailed by four, Pau finally had enough and drove the lane and dished to Bynum for a dunk. Why not do more of that? Kobe bailed the Lakers out, but he also put them in the hole." -- Fred Robledo

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant elevates for what proved to be the game-winning shot over Raptors forward James Johnson with 4.2 seconds left in the game Sunday at Toronto. Credit: Nathan Denette / Associated Press / February 12, 2012

Phil Jackson's memoir 'Eleven Rings' set for 2013 release

Phil Jackson

Ever since his retirement, former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has kept a low profile and remained mostly silent regarding the organization.

It's safe to presume he's saving most of his thoughts for his memoir, "Eleven Rings," slated for a 2013 release. The title suggests the book will center on his 19-year coaching career, which included 11 NBA championships, 13 NBA Finals appearances and 229 playoff wins.

But Laker fans and media-types alike will clamor for his take on the Lakers' four-game sweep by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals and the ensuing personnel changes. His most recent book, "The Last Season," delved honestly into the 2003-04 season, why he considered Kobe Bryant "uncoachable," how he dealt with the Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal feud and detailed how the Lakers' front office let him go.

Jackson hasn't stayed completely silent. He told ESPN-Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin he felt sorry for Laker fans after the team traded Lamar Odom to the Mavericks. Jackson spent a long time talking with Bulls.com's Sam Smith about his coaching career, and mostly remained neutral about the Lakers moving on from his era. He also, of course, has often visited girlfriend and Lakers Executive Vice President Jeanie Buss.

But it'll be interesting to read what will probably be a revealingly honest take on the Lakers' 2010-2011 season. How much did he feel his players tuned him out? What really went into Pau Gasol's playoff struggles? How did he handle the Lakers telling a number of the organization's employees that their  contracts wouldn't be renewed, just as the playoffs started? After patching things up with Bryant in his second stint with the Lakers, how would Jackson characterize their relationship?

All good questions that Jackson hopefully answers honestly in his book. In the meantime, Laker fans can wait and just hope this season doesn't become a disaster.

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— Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is writing a memoir titled "Eleven Rings," which is scheduled to come out in 2013. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

What if Rick Adelman became the Lakers' head coach?

A few possibilities on how things might have unfolded had Minnesota's Rick Adelman become the Lakers' head coach

In only his first year as head coach, he's helped his players transition from the triangle offense, has overseen a promising point guard and has witnessed an all-star forward flourish.

We're not talking about Lakers Coach Mike Brown. His team remains inconsistent on running his read offense. The Lakers' point guard spot is their weakest link, and forward Pau Gasol has lacked consistency.

Instead, we're talking about Minnesota Timberwolves Coach Rick Adelman. Even though Minnesota's total offense dropped this season from 101.1 points per game to 95.11, the team's record (9-11) will easily surpass last season's win total (17). First-year point guard Ricky Rubio looks promising as a playmaker, averaging 11.4 points and 8.8 assists. Four-year all-star Kevin Love has increased his scoring average from 20.2 points per game to 24.9 and has decreased his weight from 265 pounds to 240. 

Adelman told reporters he's hardly thought about the Lakers front office passing over him and Brian Shaw in favor of Brown. But given the L.A. team's current struggles, many fans sure are. Below are a few possibilities on how things might have unfolded.

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Pau Gasol and Phil Jackson keep in touch [Video]

It was Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks. Phil Jackson was irate and the focus of his fury was Lakers forward Pau Gasol.

Gasol was experiencing a dip in offensive production and his defense appeared lackluster. In an attempt to fire up the wallowing forward, Jackson went off on a tirade and aggressively -- and very publicly -- provoked Gasol by poking him in the chest.

That would be enough to sour many player-coach relationships, but not theirs.

At the Lakers practice facility Wednesday, Gasol said that he and Jackson have seen each other "a couple of times" since season's end and he expects to "have more contact."

Gasol said the two men have discussed the events that transpired last season and have also delved into "personal stuff."

"I think we both have a great appreciation for each other," he added.

Jackson retired after the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs by the Mavericks. Since Jackson had an unceremonious ending to his storied career, is there a chance that he could make a comeback?

It's unlikely, but when reporters asked Gasol how Jackson was handling life after basketball, Gasol surmised that it wouldn't be easy for such an accomplished man to step away from his passion.

"I'm sure it's hard," Gasol said. "He's been doing a thing for so many years, so successfully, and so passionately, and now he's, I don't know, he's taking a break or finally retiring for good and moving on."

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Shaquille O'Neal still admires Jerry West and Phil Jackson

Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson prepare for the start of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs in 2002.

The initial excerpts suggest otherwise, but don't think Shaquille O'Neal's book solely casts blame toward everyone but himself. 

O'Neal reopened old wounds detailing his clashes with Kobe Bryant. He criticized the Lakers' decision to pass over Brian Shaw as the head coach. O'Neal wrongfully pinpointed Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak behind trading him to Miami. But Shaq's 281-page book titled "Shaq Uncut: My Story," co-written by Jackie MacMullan, slated for a Nov. 15 release, highly praises both former Coach Phil Jackson and former General Manager Jerry West. 

Jackson and West differ on what mainly constitutes a championship team, with Jackson touting his triangle offense and Zen-like principles and West arguing talent supersedes everything. They may not have a good relationship, as West indicated in his autobiography when he told of Jackson's kicking him out of the locker room. Shaq conceded as much when he alluded to their relationship problems as a "power thing." Nonetheless, Shaq loved both West and Jackson because they showed him respect while holding him accountable, but in different ways. 

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Shaquille O'Neal's book blames exit from Lakers on Mitch Kupchak

Shaquille O'Neal

The name-calling continues. 

Most of the excerpts surrounding Shaquille O'Neal's book focused on his clashing with Kobe Bryant. It followed with brutally honest remarks about LeBron James' playoff struggles and belittling comments about Dwight Howard. O'Neal reserves the harshest criticism, however, for Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

O'Neal speaks of Kupchak in only six pages of the 281-page "Shaq Uncut: My Story," co-written by Jackie MacMullan, slated for a Nov. 15 release. But that's enough prose to label Kupchak as the main culprit behind Shaq's hasty departure from the Lakers.

According to the book, Kupchak promised to grant Shaq a contract extension following the 2003-04 season and not to discuss their contract negotiations publicly. Once the 2003-04 season ended, however, O'Neal was disturbed by an apparent interview in which Kupchak revealed the Lakers' plan to hold onto Bryant while keeping their options open with O'Neal.

"That was it. That was the end of me in a Lakers uniform. Mitch broke our agreement. How could I trust him again?" Shaq writes in the book. "For months, I kept waiting for Mitch to come to me and say, 'Shaq, you're getting older, we need some new players. Mr. Buss doesn't want to pay you and Kobe doesn't want you here.' But that conversation never happened. So that was when I demanded a trade. I couldn't trust Mitch anymore and it was clear Kobe was now the one with all the power."

That sounds both simplistic and inaccurate. O'Neal's trade to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a first-round draft pick wasn't the result of just one interview by Kupchak. O'Neal's clashes with Bryant were inescapable. Phil Jackson, whom Shaq writes about in a respectful tone in the book, was let go after the Lakers' 2004 NBA Finals loss to Detroit. And Shaq didn't exactly remain on Buss' good side. During an exhibition game in Honolulu, Shaq loudly yelled to Buss to "pay me." Skeptical of O'Neal's injury history, work ethic and $30-million-a-year asking price, Buss also remained reluctant to grant him an extension. 

Still, Shaq says, he no longer felt any support from the Lakers' front office once Kupchak succeeded Jerry West  after the 1999-2000 season.

"Once you deal with someone like Jerry West, you better come up with someone pretty special to keep my attention," O'Neal writes. "Unfortunately, Mitch wasn't that guy for me. We never got along. Mitch looked out for two people: himself and Jerry Buss. The rest of us were afterthoughts."

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— Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com. Follow the Lakers blog on Facebook.

Photo: Shaquille O'Neal writes that he never felt any support from Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Phil Jackson is still following the NBA

Phil Jackson is still following basketball.

The litmus test involving Phil Jackson's attachment came when he found himself watching the Pan American Games on Wednesday night, and remained interested in the U.S.' 77-76 victory over the Dominican Republic.

No doubt, Jackson admitted on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 Thursday, that "it's great to be retired, especially if you've got nothing to do if you're a basketball coach, anyway." He's hardly detached from basketball.

Jackson still dates Lakers Executive Vice President Jeanie Buss, and Lakers Coach Mike Brown told reporters last week the two even had conversations when he stopped by the team's facility. Jackson attended this year's Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame, as both a presenter to triangle innovator Tex Winter and former Bulls forward Dennis Rodman. And he follows the NBA lockout proceedings with interest, remaining skeptical when the season will start.

I'm sure when the NBA games click on if they do this year or next calendar year, I'm going to check the games out at some point," Jackson said. "I'll miss the game a little bit, but that's natural."

And naturally, for Jackson, that only springboards into revisiting the Lakers' disappointing 2010-11 campaign. That involved a four-game sweep in the Western Conference semifinals to the Dallas Mavericks, leaving the Lakers short of his fourth three-peat and then seeing his assistant Brian Shaw get passed over as his successor. 

"There is nothing that could have gone worse for a basketball team than the way we finished our season last year," Jackson said. "Struggling with New Orleans ... and going into the next round [against Dallas] we needed everyone to start playing well and we just couldn't find that little magical thing that you always hope you have as a coach, the chemistry that makes a team work well.

"To lose an 18-point lead in the first game [against the Mavericks], not being able to outscore your opponent on your home court in the fourth quarter," he said, "to give them life in the very first game of the Dallas series was foreboding what was going to happen to us. We didn't have the ability to play in the clutch like we had in the previous years."

That's why, even with Jackson lamenting how the travel and the long hours wore on his body, Waddle and Silvy remained convinced he'll come back to coach the Miami Heat in the 2012-13 season.

"Oh boy," was all Jackson would say, leaving the general public guessing on whether he remains content with retirement or inching for another comeback. 

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--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson leaves the court after the Lakers' Game 4 loss in Dallas. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 8, 2011

Lakers' Time Warner Cable deal shouldn't be held against them

LakersWith one pen stroke, the Lakers apparently drew a cloud over the NBA and the players union and their negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The team's 20-year agreement with Time Warner Cable, starting next year, didn't just anger Lakers fans who only have access to network channels. The deal angered other NBA owners, who believe it gives the Purple & Gold another unfair advantage. The contract, which Times columnist Bill Plaschke reported could be worth as much as $3 billion, won't just enrich the Lakers. It may enrich the small-market owners, who believe that they're entitled to revenue sharing. 

"That Lakers TV deal scared the hell out of everybody," one league official told ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "Everyone thought there is no way to compete with that. Then everyone started thinking that it wasn't fair that they didn’t have to share it with the teams they're playing against."

The tension illustrates the fallacy behind the notion that revenue sharing would ensure competitive balance. TrueHoop's Tom Haberstroh provides an in-depth analysis indicating that smart spending and draft picks ensure a team's success more than competitive balance.

But the jealousy over the Lakers' television deal also points to what should be a misconception among some owners -- that they're entitled to such revenue without making the smart business moves and taking the risks that ultimately ensure such a lucrative deal.

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