Want to know why Phil Jackson is one of the greatest coaches ever?Sure, there’s the eleven rings, the ability to mould and motivate superstar minds; and a unique form of leadership that really can make big egos fall away like nothing. (At least for a while.)
No, what sets Phil apart is his messaging. No one has used the media quite like Jackson.
Over the weekend, he delivered one of his best performances in recent memory, deflecting questions about Pau Gasol’s aggressiveness while taking veiled shots at Kevin Garnett. From the Daily Breeze:
“Pau knows who he is …. [all] this talk about how aggressive he is or how aggressive he isn’t falls on deaf ears. He totally gets it. He is who he is. We’re not going to make him into (Boston’s Kevin) Garnett. He’s not going to go around and punch guys in the (groin). He’s too nice of a guy.
“This is an intelligent person who understands what this game is about. We’ve been to the Finals three years in a row, so that’s part of it.”
There’s the small picture here—whether Gasol has been kicking enough butt lately—but more broadly, there’s the question of stereotypes that have haunted the Spaniard throughout his career, as well the lionization of outright intensity in players like Garnett (who frequently go too far), and a nice summation of exactly what makes Gasol great. Phil’s not just blowing smoke, nor is he criticising KG.
That’s the beauty of quotes like this. As much as they work as spin, at the end of the day, they’re also just Jackson telling it like it is. You can disagree all you want. Just don’t try and dismiss him out of hand.
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