J.J. Andande of ESPN.com posted an informative piece about the now-deceased LA Laker championship team shortly after their demise in Dallas. Entitled, “Lakers swept, begin transition,” Adande’s article includes some great insight about team dynamics and how leadership functions. I was particularly interested in this section:
But one thing the next coach will not be able to bring to the same degree as Jackson is stability. Jackson sat in an extra-high padded seat, never a hot seat. With his status (and high salary) it meant losing streaks did not have to be accompanied by speculation that the coach’s job was in jeopardy. And players never dreamed of starting a mutiny because they knew it would be them, not Jackson, who would pay the price.
No, Jackson is moving on, not a moment too soon from the sound of it. After suffering the first sweep of his career, in the second round, no less, Jackson said, “It feels good that we ended the season, to be honest with you.”
That’s a stunning quote from a man who always chased championships. It indicates this team wasn’t a joy to coach (bolstered by Jackson sounding more sentimental about moving away from his coaching staff than his players) and shows why this group couldn’t successfully defend its back-to-back championships.
As I drove back from the airport early this morning listening to ESPN radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” they were talking about how great a coach Phil Jackson was, that it takes a great coach to keep teams who have won it all hungry and motivated. Jackson did this again and again, yet—apparently—not with this squad.
There are some lessons here. Leadership is important, but so is discipleship. More on this later…