By Joseph Crevier @JosephMCrevier on March 12, 2014
Recently hired President of New York Knicks Phil Jackson is set to make his return to NBA after retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers three seasons ago. Jackson is certainly admired by every Lakers fan as he led the team to five championships in total. The hire raises questions as to how much different of a situation would the franchise be in if they had chosen Jackson instead. I'll say this -- the Lakers would absolutely be in a better situation.
A main reason as to why Dwight Howard spurned Los Angeles for the Houston Rockets was because he had a total dislike for Mike D'Antoni. It was even reported that one condition of him returning was to have D'Antoni fired. So obviously that did not happen, and as a result Howard is now lighting it up for the Rockets. On the contrary, if Jackson was the coach all along, Howard would likely still be wearing the purple and gold.
It is no secret that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard did not get along too well. Bryant wasn't a fan of Howard's goofiness while Howard wasn't a fan of Bryant's seriousness. This situation brings to mind the Shaq and Kobe era, but the difference between the two is that Howard actually keeps himself in shape during the offseason. Jackson has dealt with Bryant before, so he unquestionably could have found common ground between the two.
It is tough not to blame Kobe Bryant's torn Achilles' tendon on Mike D'Antoni. Of course he did not physically injure Bryant, but he did drive him into the ground over the entirety of the season. Bryant was second in minutes per game, averaging 38.6. Maybe if he was a few years younger this would have been no big deal. However, for a player who was in his 17th season and 34 years old at the time , it was proven to not be such a good idea.
In no way am I suggesting that Los Angeles could have competed for a championship if Phil Jackson were head coach. What I am suggesting, though, is that the team would definitely not be in last place in the Western Conference at the moment if he were the coach. Jackson has 11 rings as a coach for a reason, and the reason being he understands his players. He knows how to deal with egos, especially that of Kobe Bryant.
GM Mitch Kupchak made it a point of emphasis to retain cap space in order to sign one of the upcoming marquee free agents. If Howard had re-signed, the team would still have had enough to acquire one of these players. However, with the current state of the team, why would any of these free agents have any desire of going to a franchise in total disarray? Well, if Jackson was the coach free agents would be drooling at the opportunity presented.
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