Getting Our Phil
L.A. summer heats up:
Phil Jackson's back!
By BUCKY FOX
Laker fans are back in cruise control.
Good to Phil er up again.
Great to see the Diesel run out of gas.
Super to feel the Heat off and the Lakers hot again.
Yes, Phil Jackson returned last week to coach the Lakers.
The move came right after the Diesel--aka Shaq-- failed to steer the Miami Heat to the title that he guaranteed after fleeing Los Angeles.
And it came after the national media gave a Phil-Laker reunion zero chance. No way would he get a $4 million raise from owner Jerry Buss. No way would girlfriend and exec Jeanie Buss attract Phil back to the team.
I figured Jackson would take his genius to Minnesota. What did I know? Not as much as Rosalyn Taylor ONeale, the Long Beach author of 7 Keys 2 Success who said months ago that Phil would succeed again in Lakerland.
Also calling it right were L.A. radio guys John Ireland and Steve Mason. They campaigned for Jacksons comeback the minute the Lakers lost Rudy Tomjanovich in February.
Natch, many who dismissed a Phil resurrection cover their butts by trashing his winning future. They act as if the Lakers are doomed to lottery exile.
They dont grasp why hes the greatest coach in history. He owns nine NBA titles because he knows how to handle talent. He doesnt push players. He pushes their buttons.
His players include Kobe Bryant, the leagues best who won three titles for Phil. Then there are Lamar Odom and Caron Butler, who complete a top trio.
Amid the gloomy reaction to Phils rise was rare brilliance. It came from Hubie Brown, the former coach and current ABC analyst. He told ESPN radios Colin Cowerd that Jackson could darn well win at once.
I say flipping a 34-48 flop into 48-34 next season. And his 10th NBA title in 2007.
Thatll put Phil alone atop the pro coaching heap. And gall his detractors.
That Warm Feeling: Now Shaq and his Heat know what its like out in the cold.
Just like fans in Los Angeles, where we were frozen out of the playoffs--thanks to the Diesels desertion of the Lakers. All the while, we had to hear him rip our team and town with utter arrogance.
I was convinced he would win it all in Miami. His new team finished the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference. He had a star sidekick in Dwayne Wade.
Then came the fast lane: Game 7 of the NBA semifinals. The Diesel sputtered. Wade wallowed. And Miami wilted against Detroits hot Pistons.
So Shaq couldnt walk the talk. He limped it.
He hyped Wade as superior to Kobe. Come again? Whereas Wade couldnt fight through an injury, Kobe did exactly that in the Lakers triumph during the 2000 Finals.
Shaq figured hed win the title without Phils coaching. Oh?
In reality, what has Shaq won without Jackson and Kobe? Nothing in Orlando, nothing in Miami.
Now Team Phil-Kobe is ready to win.
With Shaq cooling his heels, suddenly its cool to be a Laker fan again.
Teen Title: Tennis has found its savior.
Hes Rafael Nadal. Hes the mens version of Anna Kournikova--great looking. Hes the mens version of Justin Henin--great playing.
Hes the new French Open champion. And just 19.
In the same column I picked Shaqs Heat to win the NBA title, I predicted Nadal would win the French.
Did he ever. The Spaniard hammered No. 1 Roger Federer in the semis and nailed Argentinas Mariano Puerta in the title match on June 5.
And there was the new king of tennis accepting King Juan Carlos kudos.
The kid with the pirate pants, dark mane and bronze muscles then held up the Roland Garros trophy.
With Andre Agassi in the fifth set of his career, Rafael Nadal is all set to hold up his sport.
Turn Him Up: Sports fans in L.A. can hear a familiar jolt in the morning. The radio voice belongs to Tony Bruno, whose laugh underscores his fun points.
The bad news is Bruno talks for 1540 The Ticket, which has a signal weaker than Dodger pitching.
The good news is Bruno resurfaced after Fox radio stupidly let him go. Now Fox airs Mancow, who really is a dude named Erich Muller in Chicago who has as much to do with L.A. as the NFL.
Bruno has the beef to push Mancow to pasture.
Speaking of which, Cowherd is another out-of-towner trying to milk the L.A. market from his ESPN loft in Connecticut.
Bruno is pure L.A. He lives here. He knows the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, the works.
If 1540 can boost its signal so fans can hear at home, Bruno will be uno.
©2005 by Bucky Fox. This column first posted June 20, 2005.
You can visit Bucky Fox's website at www.BuckyFox.com
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