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Meet the new coach, same as the old coach

I think it no accident that today, the day of the most important game of the Pistons' and Spurs' seasons, that Jerry Buss decided to announce the hiring of perhaps the most expensive coaching staff in all of pro sports, Phil Jackson. After all, the Pistons and Spurs were responsible, in 04 and 03 respectively, for knocking the Lakers off of their annually destined march to the NBA Championship. If only, as Buss was wrenching the spotlight from two much more deserving teams, he had had the presence of mind to remember who knocked them out of the 2005 playoffs. And likely the 2006 playoffs, truth be told.

The Lakers are a pretty crappy team right now, and hiring Jackson is desperation in a box. On the one hand, it's kind of cool, because Jackson will actually have to build a team, which is something that hasn't preceded a single one of his 9 rings. He's presided over fine-tuning, to be sure, but he's never had to take a lottery team and turn them into a contender. On the other, though, whatever sincerity I once attributed to Jackson has pretty much vanished. Less than a year after blasting Kobe Bryant in print and saying that he was through with him, he's back as his coach? He's got ten million reasons, I suppose, to take the helm of a team that doesn't have a single top-15-at-his-position player outside of Bryant, but Jackson's schtick has always been that he's above that kind of grubby.

Ah well. I just hope that all of the talking heads who think that Jackson's some sort of answer will admit how wrong they were about the actual question. A year from now, even if the Lake squeaks in as a 7 or 8 seed, the Suns or the Spurs will sweep them to oblivion, despite Jackson's incredible playoff coaching record. And Buss will face the same questions then that he should be facing right now, only he won't be able to lure his daughter's boyfriend out of retirement to disguise the fact that they're bigger questions than whether or not Phil and Kobe can coexist.

That's all. I'm gonna go watch the Pistons close out Game 3.


"Desperation in a box." I like that.