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Following being traded by the Lakers Phil Jackson ripped Shaquille O'Neal who had once called Jackson a second father. Shaq referred to his former coach as Benedict Arnold. Jackson had previously said, "The only person I've ever [coached] that hasn't been a worker ... is probably Shaq." - (Bridget Samuels photo)

 

 

Within five seasons Kobe Bryant took over the Lakers organization while throwing Shaquille O'Neal under the bus - NBA photo

 

 

 

Shaquille O'Neal went from the penthouse to the outhouse after Kobe Bryant's arrival - NBA photo

 

 

SPORTS NOTES - Part 2 - The ZEN MAN transformed FAKER LAKERS from Losers to NBA TITLE WINNERS

James Loving/National Radio Text Service

 

 

In games, Kobe Bryant would often disregard the set offense completely to experiment with his own one-on-one moves, incensing the normally calm Phil Jackson. Bryant managed to test Jackson's patience enough that the "Zen Master" even demanded that Bryant be traded

 

 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

THE LAKERS BLACK MAMBA DRAMA

When Phil Jackson took the reigns as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 1999/2000 season it was a team that we deemed the Humpty Dumpty team of the NBA as well as the shoulda, woulda, coulda boys of the league. They had every excuse possible regarding why they couldn't win. In our opinion Jackson's challenge was that all the kings' horses and all the kings' men couldn't put those Humpty Dumpty Lakers back together again. Jackson proved us wrong in guiding the patched up faker Lakers to five titles during his two stints as its coach.

Jackson departed following the Shaquille O'Neal Kobe Bryant fiasco of the 2003/04 season. The two had a problem of who was going to be the go to guy on the team. This was an ego problem Jackson could not fix.

We deemed him the ZEN MAN as Jackson endured the massive egos of Kobe Bryant wanting to squash O'Neal so bad that it resulted in the Lakers having to choose between the two and they decided to throw O'Neal under the bus and disregarded that together the duo had won three championships together with O'Neal being the main man as we considered him the Batman in a Batman and Robin duo. Bryant didn't want to be Robin he wanted to be Batman.

Jackson frequently clashed with Bryant. While the team was remarkably efficient in Jackson's "triangle offense", Bryant had a personal distaste for Jackson's brand of basketball and subsequently called it "boring." In games, Bryant would often disregard the set offense completely to experiment with his own one-on-one moves, incensing the normally calm Jackson. Bryant managed to test Jackson's patience enough that the "Zen Master" even demanded that Bryant be traded, although the Lakers management rejected the request. O'Neal was eventually traded to the Miami Heat July 14th 2004 for Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, Caron Butler, and a first-round draft pick.

Jackson took a break from the Lakers to soothe his nerves and chill out. During that time he and wrote a book about the team's 2003-04 season, in which he heavily criticized Bryant and called him "uncoachable". The Lakers front office said that the book contained "several inaccuracies".

The Lakers were then left to be led by Bryant failed without Jackson and Big Daddy Shaq. Bryant was then on his own thus couldn't be subject to an often used streetwise joke of asking him, who's your daddy? Bryant was left to be his own man and the Lakers were his team and Bid Daddy Shaq was gone.

The team hired Rudy Tomjanovich to replace Jackson. Tomjanovich coached the team to a 22-19 record before resigning due to health problems. Assistant Frank Hamblen was named interim head coach to replace Tomjanovich for the remainder of the season. Bryant (ankle) and Odom (shoulder) suffered injuries, and the Lakers finished 34-48, missing the playoffs for the fifth time in franchise history. The demolition of the Lakers was in place and their disrespect for O'Neal to appease an apparently spoiled immature player was taking affect.

Leading up to Jackson's departure much of the obliteration of the squad was in play from management's bad decisions and Bryant's off the court escapades that created bad karma. During the 2003-04 season, the team was the subject of intense media coverage generated by the sexual-assault case involving Kobe Bryant with a teenage girl in Colorado. That dark cloud hovered over the franchise and Bryant but was kept under control. Given today's persecution of sports athletes today such as the NFL's Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are experiencing, Bryant is lucky that he got away with what he did when he did.

While the Lakers were suffering during his absence Jackson had time to regain his energy and a change of heart. After his chill pill retreat the ZEN MAN returned to the club to eventually guide the Lakers to two more titles but the road to those back to back titles was bumpy.

In Jackson's first season back they compiled a less than impressive 45-37 regular season record. The team returned to the playoffs after a one season absence. After taking a three games to one lead in the first round, the Suns came back to take the series in seven games. In the following season, the Lakers won 26 of their first 39 games, but lost 27 of their last 43-including seven in a row at one point-to finish 42-40. They were eliminated in the first round by the Suns again, this time 4-1. Frustrated by the team's inability to advance in the playoffs, Bryant demanded to be traded in the offseason. Buss initially agreed to seek a trade, but also worked to try to change Bryant's mind. For some strange reason Bryant was in a position of being the inmate who was running the asylum.

O'Neal experienced a better fate as with the Heat he was an instrumental member of their 2006 NBA title winning championship team. At that point he was one up on Bryant in winning his fourth title to Bryant's three. That season was a sweet experience that was soon to turn bitter.

The following 2006-07 season, O'Neal missed 35 games after an injury to his left knee in November required surgery. After one of those missed games, a Christmas Day match-up against the Lakers, he ripped Jackson, who O'Neal had once called a second father, referring to his former coach as Benedict Arnold. Jackson had previously said, "The only person I've ever [coached] that hasn't been a worker ... is probably Shaq."

As talented as Bryant is he seems to be experiencing an identity crisis. In 2007 Bryant assigned himself the nickname of "Black Mamba", citing a desire for his basketball skills to mimic the snake of that name's ability to "strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession." During the 2012-13 season, he began referring to himself as "vino" to describe how his play had been aging like a fine wine.

The talent and egos were on Phil Jackson's court and his job was to make it work. Without O'Neal, Jackson had a massive job to rebuild the Humpty Dumpty Lakers back together again to respectability. The Lakers started the 2007-08 season with a 25-11 record, before Andrew Bynum, their center who was leading the league in field-goal percentage, went out for the year due to a knee injury in mid-January. They acquired power forward Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade in early February and went 22-5 to finish the season.

Gasol proved to be the glue that held the team together for a fluid chemistry that eventually resulted in two more NBA titles but not that season. With Gasol and Jackson in the mix the Lakers' 57-25 record earned them the first seed in the Western Conference. Bryant was awarded the league's MVP award, ironically becoming the first Laker to win the award since former Lakers Batman; O'Neal accomplished the feat in 2000. In the playoffs, they defeated the Nuggets in four games, the Jazz in six, and the defending champion Spurs in five, but lost to the Celtics in six games in the NBA Finals.

That season was the start of something big. Jackson coached the team to two more titles. In the 2008-09 season, the Lakers finished 65-17 and went on to win their fifteenth NBA championship by defeating the Orlando Magic in five games in the NBA finals. In the 2009-10 season they rallied back from a 3-2 disadvantage in the NBA Finals series and erased a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter of the seventh game to defeat their arch rival Boston Celtics. This series win gave them their 16th NBA title overall and 11th since they moved to Los Angeles. Bryant was named Finals MVP for the second year in a row, despite a 6-24 shooting performance in game seven.

Jackson's body was wearing down and Bryant's ego was growing bigger. The Black Mamba made a snide remark about having won five NBA titles to Shaq's four. Since O'Neal won his fourth title three seasons before Bryant it apparently bothered Bryant and his massive, it's about me, ego.

There's no doubt that the Lakers success was primarily due to Jackson who had to massage the Lakers players egos, particularly Bryant's from the teams with Shaq that won three titles to make it work. It's Bryant's ego that the Lakers management seems to adore and bends to his every command or wish. From the outside the Lakers organization appears to be run by childish behavior.

Following those two title winning seasons Jackson's body was worn down physically and mentally. After much speculation, Jackson returned for the 2010-11 season. In the playoffs, the Lakers defeated the New Orleans Hornets in the first round. But their opportunity for a three-peat was denied by the Dallas Mavericks in a four-game sweep of the second round. After the season, it was announced that Jackson will not be returning to coach the Lakers. Without his presence the Lakers became losers again and with the Black Mamba in charge the drama continues.

According to sportswriter Mark Heisler of Forbes, "circa 2004-2007, Kobe was the most alienated superstar the NBA had ever seen."

Next: The Buss Family Trusts... the Black Mamba


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