2004, Phil Jackson was just a series away from etching above Red Auerbach’s 9 NBA championship but when fate had its way it ended in frustration when the Lakers have to deal a resilient underdog the Detroit Pistons. The Lakers paraded four future Hall of famers in Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille Oneal but it was no match for the Pistons offense and defensive plays. It was a harsh lesson for the Lakers and a much thought provoking one for Phil Jackson. Red Auerbach criticized Phil’s team leading to the Michael Jordan days when everything was laid to him from Jordan to Pippen to Dennis Rodman, Phil would have no problems calling the shot and resulted in 6 NBA championships. Red prevented championship rings for an all talented cast for the Lakers featuring Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain he matched them up with good and quality role players such as Don Nelson, Frank Ramsey and John Havlicek with two all star players in Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. It wasn’t an easy feat capturing 9 championship rings but it gave everyone a valuable lesson, basketball after all is a team game rather than individual performances he preaches defense and defense win them games including championships.
Phil Jackson went back to the Finals last year but was greeted with a 4-2 blowout by the Boston Celtics. History would have to repeat itself when a core of softy Lakers fought a hard nose defensive Celtics team. Once again Phil Jackson failed the second time around maybe it was a wake up call or maybe it was time to inculcate a more team oriented Lakers. This year we saw different and determined Lakers and we saw a different approach by Jackson. He was using more rotation and resulted in upbeat and confident Lakers. Shannen Brown who was a reserved player most of his career have been a consistent contributor throughout the playoffs and Trevor Ariza who played limited minutes in Orlando shutdown Hedo Turkoglo on their game 5 victory. The Lakers eventually won the championship and the role players step up and eventually made a difference. Phil Jackson grab his 10th NBA championship and done it the way Auerbach has piled up 9 rings. Luke Walton, Shannen Brown, Ariza, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujajic and Josh Powell developed to be the Don Nelson and John Havlicek of the Celtics.
Chasing no.10 wouldn’t be so hard after all…it only takes a team to win it.