I am saying it first! Phil Jackson to the Miami Heat!
This statement was coined by Tony Kornheiser, on Pardon the Interruption during the 2011 season. But honestly, let’s just cut through it, Erik Spoelstra is a young coach. He has no rings; Phil Jackson has eleven of them. He is outwardly disrespected by players . . . during the game (see LeBron James’ shoulder-bump and the shouting match with Dwyane Wade’s in Game 3 vs. Indiana). On the other hand, Phil Jackson punches Paul Gasol in the chest and puts Andrew Bynum (often lauded as the best center in the NBA) on his bench. He would also casually put his best player(s) on the bench (Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Shaq) without them saying anything. Oh, and let’s not forget, Coach Spoelstra uses football schemes to play basketball games. Phil is a Triangle Guru (this could be a whole point by itself, but let’s sum it up by saying. The Miami Heat are a PERFECT candidate for a triangle make-over. It would give LeBron a chance to play in tune with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and not put too much overt pressure on any of the three to do it alone all the time. They have great outside shooters, particularly Mario Chalmers, and a big man strong enough to be “the others,” that five-time NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal often alludes to. In short, Heat + Triangle = Championships).
II. LeBron James is the best player in the NBA
Phil Jackson has won eleven championships with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant. As Shaq always says you have to have a one – two punch. While I don’t swear by Shaquille O’Neal, I do swear by the fact that Phil Jackson always places himself in a “chicken or the egg” conversation. Which comes first, the Hall of Fame player or the Hall of Fame coach? He turned Kobe Bryant’s career back around by utilizing Luke Walton and Mark Madsen and coached Jordan to all of his championships with casts that included Bill Wennington, Luc Longley, and Bill Cartwright as starters. Miami is in the same scenario, with a few stars and a bunch of over – the – hill or no name starters, which include Udonis Haslem, Juwan Howard, and (now) Ronny Turiaf. Weirdly this is a match made in Phil Jackson heaven.
III. Pat Riley doesn’t want to.
I was originally tipped off to this idea by a story on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning Radio Show, as they were discussing Pat Riley stepping down to coach again with Kurt Rambis. However, Kurt made it clear that both the Hall of Fame Coach and players alike wouldn’t be able to take such a model. He quoted that his practices were “hard and grueling,” and he just doesn’t want to at this point. I would advocate for Pat Riley as the “obvious” choice, but due to the above factors and that Phil Jackson is rested and ready to go again. Pat doesn’t need to step down, just make a hire.
IV. ONLY Great Coaches (particularly Phil Jackson) win championships
In the last ten years, Greg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Rick Carlisle, and Phil Jackson have won all the championships. This is a very tough group to break into. While players do have a strong amount of say in this equation. It is clear that if you have great pieces, without a great coach, you’re not going anywhere. A perfect example is the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have a young, quick team, but they will lose to Greg Popovich this year (giving Popovich his fifth ring). Championship coaches are an elite group. Rick Carlisle and Doc Rivers are the only two on this list without multiple championships. However they have been to multiple NBA Finals (and I always, personally believed Rick Carlisle was unnecessarily fired as the Detroit Pistons head coach in 2003 after they made the NBA Finals, only to make it back to the finals and win next year under head coach Larry Brown).
This is the African word Doc Rivers has his team repeat during the playoffs. It’s translated into the English word meaning “family” or “togetherness.” If you make the addition of Phil Jackson, you get a coach who gets to spend his off –days on the beach or eating at Prime 112, and you get to keep your team together. The Heat won’t need a Dwight Howard or even a Point Guard if you get Phil Jackson. He turned Derek Fisher, Randy Brown, and B.J. Armstrong into championship point guards. With that said, you don’t need to make a trade. You don’t need to get rid of anyone, because Phil Jackson makes everyone better. So, if he’s listening, “Phil, it’s time to repeat the three-peat again. This time we’re going to South Beach (I just hope you got not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, but 7 left in you . . . it’s already been promised).
Kyle Keenan Williams
Contributing Writer on Comedic Prose
Follow Kyle Williams on Twitter @darealkwilliams