Three points for 90’s Sega Genesis basketball game reference.
Before going out with Meghan and a friend of ours for Mothers Day, I was sitting in my living room, my eyes fixed on a big screen television. The Rangers were getting creamed, and the powers that be had gravitated toward other things. So, after giving up a Grand Slam to a guy my father called “Double Play Cervelli” and a second jack from Derek Jeter, I decided that the channel needed to be changed.
And I’m glad I changed it.
In this area, WFAA carried the Mavericks-Lakers game yesterday, which to many in my area, was the single most anticipated game of the playoffs so far.
It was nice to see the outcome.
When the final horn rang, the Mavericks, victims of four consecutive playoff campaign failures, had sent Phil Jackson into retirement with the worst playoff series of his career, a testament that even the mightiest can fall. Jackson, already having verbal spat with officials after the loss in Game 3 turned on his players as the final minutes of the game ticked away. Mind you, with just cause.
Not only was the legendary Phil Jackson staring down the scoreboard in disbelief, but his players lost all control over their emotions and fundamentals. Lamar Odom was ejected after an uncalled-for blocking foul against Dirk Nowitzki, called Flagrant 2. Odom leaves quietly, escorted by police and the screams of 21,000 fans to the visitors locker room. Just forty-five seconds later, his buddy Andrew Bynum sent a vicious elbow into the ribs of one J.J. “No Fear” Barea, leaving him writhing on the court. Bynum, already knowing he got ejected, leaves immediately, screaming at the fans and tossing his jersey, escorted by Ron Artest.
If I was Phil Jackson, I just shook my head in complete melancholy. I can’t stop thinking about how bad this is. To make matters a little worse on a personal level, my family was here to see this.
After handshakes and the final bow, Jackson heads off into the sunset. Despite just having the worst playoff series of his career, he leaves with 11 championships, six with Jordan and Pippen, three with Kobe and Shaq, and two more with The Black Mamba in solidarity. He leaves with a career coaching record of 1384-589, including playoffs (71.5% winning percentage). He leaves knowing that he has coached an All-Star Team’s worth of Hall-of-Famer’s. He leaves with six consecutive NBA titles, and fourteen Conference Finals appearances. He leaves as arguably the most prolific man to ever don a suit and commandeer an NBA team.
“The Zen Master” has retired before. He stepped away from the game after the Bulls’ second three-peat, vowing never to come back. But, the itch got him, and he came back to coach the Lakers, three-peating once again.
I’ll be honest, I may not be a Lakers fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I give credit where credit is due. I admit that Kobe Bryant is a first-ballot Hall-Of-Famer. I admit that Derek Fisher is a potential Hall-Of-Famer. I even admit that despite his jangly demeanor and confusion-inspired bitchiness, Pau Gasol is one hell of a big man. But most importantly, despite my undying respect for Red Auerbach, I will say that Phil Jackson is…
… wait for it…
The best there ever was.
So, to you, Phil Jackson, your legacy is still concrete to me. Congratulations on an amazing career. I raise a glass to you.