Video: ‘Exhibit A’ On Why Phil Jackson Leaving LA

In the past few weeks, the main media has erroneously reported a supposed rift between Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant that allegedly began when Bryant’s wife Vanessa broke up Gasol’s relationship with girlfriend Silvia Lopez Castro.


That rumor, thanks to comments by Gasol as early as last Saturday, has now been completely debunked. Gasol has since confirmed he is still with Castro and nothing has changed in their relationship.

While that break between Gasol and Bryant never existed, now ex-Lakers Coach Phil Jackson confirmed yesterday a disconnect between himself and a key member of the Lakers basketball operation and ownership.

Wednesday, as Jackson conducted his final press conference as Lakers coach, he was asked by FOX Sports Radio reporter David Vassegh:

“Do feel you have a stronger sense of attachment (to the Lakers) other than Jeanie (Buss, Jackson girlfriend and daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss) than you did with the Bulls?” 

Jackson reply:

“There are people in the organization, yes, that I have an attachment to. You know I haven’t spoken to (Lakers Exec. VP, Player Personnel and son of owner Jerry) Jimmy Buss this year.

“Jerry I see occasionally and we confer. (Lakers General Manager) Mitch (Kupchak) and I have our chances to be together and we have a good relationship. Those are people in that department that I have a relationship with.

“As far as management, if you want to call it that, there’s really not a relationship with that.”

Jackson couldn’t have slighted Jim Buss any more in his comments than he did with that remark.

Longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss has made clear on numerous occasions that Jim Buss will formally take over the basketball operation of the team when he relinquishes all control of the franchise. (Jeanie will continue to run the business operation.)

While Mitch Kupchak technically runs the Lakers basketball operation, eventually he will report solely to Jim Buss, though from Jerry’s comments last August, it sounds as if that is already the case.

During a press conference on August 17, 2010, Jerry Buss said of his role with the team’s basketball operation:

“I still talk to my son Jimmy at least twice a day. Some of those phone calls are as long as an hour. The large portion of the content of those phone calls is basketball. What we should do, what we’re doing. 

“In terms of (Lakers basketball) decisions, 80% of it goes with Jim and I throw in my two cents worth here and there.”

That Jim Buss did not speak to Jackson this season is very telling when it comes to the coach’s relationship to the future, formal overseer of the Lakers basketball fortunes.

If you’re wondering why Jackson is leaving L.A., there’s your ‘Exhibit A.’

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Buss: ‘No playoffs? You don’t work here anymore’

Lakers Owner Jerry Buss to the ASSOCIATED PRESS this week:

Jerry Buss female Lakers fan

(Okay, you can stay)

“Some time ago, talking to some people, they wanted a bonus if the Lakers made the playoffs. I said, `Bonus? If we don’t make the playoffs, you don’t work here anymore.”’

Buss also opined on the derision borne of LeBron James‘ recent decision:

Given the devastating affect James’ decision had on the team and the city, Buss had “mixed emotions” about James’ departure and felt he “let down a lot of people and it seemed kind of sad.”

More snips: Read more…

Phil Jackson Today: “I’m leaning towards retiring”

Mike Trudell, reporter for the L.A. Lakers’ official website Lakers.com, today recorded comments from Phil Jackson about his status as head coach of the Lakers.

Phil Jackson

(Phil Jackson today - Photo credit: Lakers.com)

On if he’ll return as Lakers Coach:

“I’m leaning towards retiring but I haven’t made up my mind yet.

“Some of it is about health. That’s just the way I’m feeling right now. It’s just something I’m going to sit with.

“This team is in a good place to (win again). If I’m not here, someone else is going to come in and do the job.

“It’s certainly not about money. Read more…

Phil Jackson’s Daughter: “I think he’s done now”

Longtime Lakers beat writer Kevin Ding of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER reports Tuesday that Phil Jackson’s 35-year-old daughter Chelsea recently made a prediction on her dad’s coaching status to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in a piece by Lee Jenkins:

Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant

His daughter Chelsea, who come NBA Finals time traditionally dons her No. 18 Lakers jersey not in honor of Sasha Vujacic but because Phil used to wear No. 18 as a player, had a strong prediction in Sports Illustrated: “I think this is it. I think he’s done now.”

Jackson has talked some with his players Tuesday about the future, and Luke Walton said he thought Jackson was leaning one way but wouldn’t speak for his coach. Walton did say he ended his exit interview with Jackson and Mitch Kupchak on Tuesday by saying he hopes Jackson does return to the Lakers.

If you’ve followed Phil Jackson’s coaching career the past decade in Los Angeles, you’ve seen these cat and mouse scenarios between Jackson and the Lakers play out many times. Read more…

Mindgame: Game 6 Score Left Up For C’s Workout

For the Celtics practice yesterday, the Staples Center scoreboard was still displaying the final point tally from Game 6 of the NBA Finals the night before:

Phil Jackson Mindgames: Game 6 Score Left Up At Staples Center For Celtics Practice

No coincidence that the Lakers happened to win that game 89-67.
Read more…

ESPN Refuses To Acknowledge Sloppy Reporting

Last night Chris Broussard of ESPN reported that the Chicago Bulls “have reached out to Phil Jackson through back channels to gauge his interest in returning to the franchise he won six NBA titles with, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

(Wilbon didn’t acknowledge Jax’s denial the next day on PTI)

Broussard went on to note that, “there has been no direct contact between Bulls officials and Jackson, according to the sources, but people close to both parties have spoken and come away with the belief that Jackson would be open to a potential reunion in Chicago next season.

Shortly after the story was posted, K.C. Johnson of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE noted that Jackson reported himself earlier this month that he had no intention of returning to Chicago:

That seems unlikely, not only because of the team source downplaying the story but also from Jackson’s words on May 4.

No, I’m not,” Jackson said, when asked if he’d be interested in succeeding Vinny Del Negro. “I think it’s a wonderful job for whoever takes it.”

That denial was not included in the original Broussard piece. ESPN copy editors have since added it.

May 17 on local D.C. radio, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon reported that Phil Jackson had already been asked to take a 60% pay cut by Lakers Owner Jerry Buss if he wanted to return as Lakers Coach next season. When asked on May 19 by Kevin Ding of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - after Wilbon’s report - if he was asked to take a 60% pay cut, Jackson said, “I have not.”

The next day (May 20 “Pay Cut For Phil” segment) on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption Wilbon debated with Tony Kornheiser the prospect of Jackson taking a 60% pay cut. Nowhere in his discussion was the fact that Jackson had specifically denied Wilbon’s claim the night before.

On May 21 Chad Ford of ESPN shook up the Chris Bosh free agent sweepstakes when ESPN.com reported:

Chris Bosh’s agent has told the Toronto Raptors that he’s narrowed his list of preferred teams to five, two sources told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford at the NBA draft camp.

The list of five teams — Toronto plus the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks, sources said — was given to Toronto management in case the Raptors want to construct a sign-and-trade deal (assuming Bosh doesn’t re-sign with Toronto).

Later that day, Bosh himself Tweeted: “I saw that i supposedly had a ” top 5″ yesterday. Here’s something more accurate. http://j.mp/cWS0SV.”

The story Bosh linked to, at RealGM.com, reported:

Henry Thomas, the agent for Chris Bosh, said that he has not given the Raptors a list of teams to which his client would be interested in a sign-and-trade deal.

“I haven’t closed the door on anything,” Thomas said. “I haven’t given Bryan [Colangelo] any lists. There is no list. This is a process that is ongoing.”

Thomas said that Bosh is currently considering his options.

“Why would I do that?” Thomas said about the wish list. “We’re still in a process of evaluating a lot different situations.”

Bosh and Thomas disputing Ford’s claims was never acknowledged in Ford’s original report.

It’s a compliment to ESPN that I’m pointing out these three recent instances, as I’m acknowledging the ultimate power ESPN has to manufacture news. But with that power comes responsibility and in each of these cases, the source of the reportage has specifically denied the ESPN report. Read more…

Jackson Denies He’s ‘Been Told’ Of 60% Pay Cut

Earlier today I noted a Monday D.C. radio report that indicated Phil Jackson has already been told by Lakers Owner Jerry Buss that if he wishes to return to coach the team next season, he will have to take a 60 percent pay cut from his current salary.

Phil Jackson wince

During a Monday appearance on WTEM-AM in D.C., ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said:

“I was told yesterday that Phil Jackson’s been told that not only will he not be making $12 million dollars next year, it’s going to be a $5 million dollar cap on his salary.”

Before Game 2 of the Suns-Lakers playoff game on Wednesday night, Jackson was asked about Wilbon’s claim. Read more…

Report: Phil Jackson Asked To Take 60% Pay Cut

In late 2009, Phil Jackson intimated to the media that money may be a major factor if he’s to return as Lakers coach next season. Before the Lakers played the Nets on December 19, Jackson said:

Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant

“A lot of it has to do with the direction the league is going, the direction the ownership wants to go in. People are cutting costs all around the league, and coaches are obviously going to take a cut too, so they may not even want to hire me. They may want to save some money.”

When asked in a followup if he’d take a pay cut to remain as coach of the Lakers, Jackson said, “Why would you?

Then last March, Jackson got more specific about what will dictate his return:

“(Lakers Owner) Dr. (Jerry) Buss said that he put some things on the line by re-signing Lamar [Odom], so it’s financial. This team has never lost money since he took over the team so that’s a big part of it. I pushed him to sign Lamar and we all said we have to have this guy back even if it’s going to put this team in jeopardy financially. At a time when it’s tough in this league, he took the step.”

Most recently, Jackson’s girlfriend and head of the team’s business operations, Jeanie Buss, said last month of her father, Lakers Owners Jerry Buss:

“My dad has made it very clear he doesn’t want to pay him what he’s been paying him. So that’s kind of hard, too. You could kind of say, in some jobs, well I’m cutting back your hours. But can you see him cutting back his hours?”

That leads into a report this week that pegged the pay cut that Jackson allegedly will have to take if he is to remain Lakers coach after this season.

Read more…

Jackson Responds To Latino Activists On AZ Law

Last Friday I reported on an Orange County (CA) blogger asking his readers to join him outside of Staples Center before the Lakers-Sun playoff game Monday to protest Phil Jackson’s comments about the new Arizona immigration law.

Phil Jackson Protest Sign

(Hey 3% of L.A., Phil Jackson’s talking to you!)

Local Latino activist Nativo Lopez has since joined the fray, inducing the LOS ANGELES TIMES into a blog post about the pregame protest tonight.

For the unfamiliar, Lopez is our very own version of Al Sharpton. While the professional activist isn’t quite the showman Sharpton is, I’m proud to report that he can still be quite entertaining. Along with every bit the opportunist.

Though the legal Mexican-American immigrant community isn’t nearly as flattering in its assessment of Lopez, who most locals recognize as a complicit pawn for the Mexican government.

So with the L.A. Times and Lopez on board for the modest pre-playoff game protest, Jackson released a statement today that hedged his position on Arizona’s SB 1070 while reiterating his hope that politics can be extracted from the upcoming series. Read more…

Lakers Fans To ‘Protest’ Jackson AZ Law Support

An Orange County (CA) political blog run by the former Hispanic Outreach Director for the Republican Party of Orange County is planning a protest outside Staples Center on May 17 before Game 1 of the Lakers-Suns playoff game.

Phil Jackson banner fans to protest Lakers coach stance on Arizona immigration law

(How flattering)

Friday Santa Ana resident Art Fedora asked readers to join him before Monday’s game at 5pm “to denounce Lakers Coach Phil Jackson for his support of Racist Arizona bill SB1070.” Fedora added in his posted request, “What if during a basketball Game in Arizona, Lakers Fans get questioned about their immigration status?

The “protest” stems from comments made by Jackson earlier this month to the media about Arizona’s pending immigration enforcement law. On May 5, the coach told J.A. Adande: Read more…