It never takes long for a big name team to become linked to a rumor concerning Phil Jackson becoming their coach, and after the 2012 NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the newest big name in the NBA.
Scott Brooks, the current coach of the Thunder, did a tremendous job of leading his team to the Finals, where they fell short of the ultimate goal; losing to the Lebron James and the Miami Heat in 5 games. In most situations, leading your team to the Finals would insure an extended tenure as the head coach, but Brooks’ contract expires at the end of the month, and the two parties are in the midst of negotiations on a new contract. The rumor mill has already been letting on that there is a disagreement on the number of years a new contract should span. OKC is offering 3, but Brooks wants 4.
It seems like a small thing, but after losing 16 games this season to different desires in the negotiating room, we all know that anything can block a deal from being made.
If the Thunder are unable to come to terms with Brooks, it is rumored that they will have a very short list of coaches that they would pursue to take over the head coaching responsibilities. One name on that list is Jeff Van Gundy, who has not coached since 2007, when he parted ways with the Houston Rockets. The other name is, of course, the great Phil Jackson.
This actually we be a great fit for both parties. Jackson brings with him the experience of winning 11 titles, often juggling super star personalities on the way. From Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Jackson has a way of bringing out the best in his players, earning him the nickname the Zen Master. Managing the Thunder’s high powered duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would be right up his alley, making OKC just reek of another Phil Jackson engineered dynasty.
Unlike the New York Knicks, possibly the biggest name courting the legendary coach, the Thunder not only have the talent and athleticism to win a championship, they also have the type of class and dedication Jackson would likely be appealed by. The stars of the team are all in their early 20’s and would give Phil the opportunity to push his legacy to its furthest limits. New York has star power, but lacks a sense of togetherness, often playing “hero ball” and arguing over touches. So much so, in fact, it is doubtful that the Knickerbockers could make an offer attractive enough to woo Jackson to the Big Apple.
In the Finals, OKC showed a propensity towards playing hero ball themselves, but when young players become desperate, it is easy to revert to what you always have known in the past; Give me the rock and get out of my way. Unfortunately, this just does not work to a team’s advantage on the NBA’s largest stage, and as the Thunder found out, it is the quickest way to get sent packing.
Jackson has dealt with this same issue, coaching two of the best the world has ever seen, and it is scary to think of what he could do with the likes of KD and Westbrook.
Brooks is a good coach, and he showed himself to be a real class act in the final game of the series against the Heat, but he ignored the blueprint that was displayed last year by the Dallas Mavericks when they beat the Heat to win the 2011 Championship. He could not keep Durrant from fading from the moment, and he completely lost Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden.
I am sure that he is a good enough coach to learn from this experience and he will be better equipped to deal with the challenges of the future, but there is no argument against the fact that it is Phil Jackson we are talking about as his replacement.
It might be in the best interest of the franchise if a deal is not met. I am telling you, if Phil takes over in Oklahoma City, then it will be all about the Championships. Not one, not two, not three…Oh wait, someone already used that…Sorry Lebron.Jeff Everette is a featured columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. You can follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, or subscribe to his Facebook page at Jeff Everette- RantSports.com, for all of his latest articles, opinions, and rants. Other NBA Rumors