Spin cycle: Phil Jackson’s comments on LeBron all part of a masterful plan

Oct 13, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks president Phil Jackson watches the game against the Toronto Raptors during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 13, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks president Phil Jackson watches the game against the Toronto Raptors during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Phil Jackson doesn’t like the state of NBA offenses. Why is this even news?

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You’d think that one day prior to the NBA Draft there would be a lot of draft-centric news floating out in the ol’ Interwebs. And yet the one story that seems to have legs (maybe the cream doesn’t rise to the top) is about Knicks president Phil Jackson and his distaste for the state of NBA offenses.

Such news bears two questions: Who cares, and why does it matter? Let’s start with the latter.

In wide-ranging interview with Howard Beck, Jackson at one point opines on the current state of the league. He hates iso offenses, and believes that the individualized nature of today’s game has uglified what should be a beautiful sport.

"“The game actually has some beauty to it, and we’ve kind of taken some of that out of it to make it individualized,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot of who we are as a country, individualized stuff.”Indeed, Jackson seems much less concerned with validating the triangle than with the state of the game itself.“When I watch some of these playoff games, and I look at what’s being run out there, as what people call an offense, it’s really quite remarkable to see how far our game has fallen from a team game,” Jackson said. “Four guys stand around watching one guy dribble a basketball.”"

Was there any question that Phil Jackson, preacher of the Triangle, would hate pick and roll offenses? That a man who loves the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers disdains uncreative individualism? That a guy who cites Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as a guiding force in his life craves fluidity? Come on.

As an example of this ugly new brand of basketball, Jackson called notice to the NBA’s premier star.

"“I watch LeBron James, for example,” he said. “He might [travel] every other time he catches the basketball if he’s off the ball. He catches the ball, moves both his feet. You see it happen all the time. There’s no structure, there’s no discipline, there’s no ‘How do we play this game’ type of attitude. And it goes all the way through the game. To the point where now guys don’t screen—they push guys off with their hands.”…“It struck me: How can we get so far away from the real truth of what we’re trying to do? And if you give people structure, just like a jazz musician—he’s gotta learn melody, and he’s gotta learn the basic parts of music—and then he can learn how to improvise. And that’s basically what team play is all about.”"

Boom! There it is.

Phil Jackson says LeBron Travels on Every Single Play

Phil Jackson Roasts LeBron for Traveling

Phil Jackson HATES LeBron , HATES the NBA, LOVES Jazz Music

Phil Jackson is perhaps the most perceptive figure in the entire NBA, if not all sports. He knows what buttons to push and when to press them. He also knows how to use the media to force agendas.

If Jackson gives an interview kvetching about the ugly basketball of today while wistfully remembering the glory years of his playing days, then he’s every other 69-year-old grump complaining about the new generation. Nobody cares and the story gets swept under the rug.

If Jackson gives an interview and casually throws out LeBron James‘ name (out of every other player in the league – including his own personal black hole, Carmelo Anthony), it becomes front page news. People start Googling “LeBron James+travel,” social media chirps at the NBA for not cracking down on hard screens, and fans hunt YouTube clips from the 1970s Knicks. Maybe the league even takes a look at how it officiates. Agenda pushed.

Why does all this matter? Perhaps you agree with Jackson and think the game has turned stale. Or maybe you just love a good ol’ fashioned cat fight.

And who cares? Apparently everyone with a keyboard and a writing platform.

phil jackson lebron traveling
phil jackson lebron traveling /

This is the NBA’s last gasp at relevancy before being swallowed up by the offseason void and overtaken by football. Jackson picked his spot, drew a bead on his target, and once again hit his mark. He played it perfectly.

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