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The Brooklyn Nets Need Phil Jackson to Win NBA Title
Disappointment doesn't begin to cover how fans feel about the Brooklyn Nets. They spent loads of money in the off-season to assemble a talented roster complete with stars including one of the best point guards in the game. They won the 4th seed in the playoffs. Yet they lost in seven games to a team playing hurt and without its best player. If that is not failure, then the word should not exist. Many wonder now where the team goes from here. The answer isn't hard to find. They need a head coach who can get the roster playing like a team instead of just a group of good players. Otherwise their NBA title hopes are a pipe dream. That means the search must begin and end with Phil Jackson.
Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers mirror Nets when Jackson took over
One thing people have to remember about Phil Jackson is his remarkable good fortune, or good decision-making depending on the outlook. When he joined the Chicago Bulls as an assistant coach in 1987, the team had already begun to assemble their core, featured by superstar shooting guard Michael Jordan. By the time he became head coach in 1990, all they needed was direction and a scheme that would take pressure off of Jordan to do the scoring. So with the help of Tex Winter, Jackson installed the triangle offense. This got Chicago playing a disciplined half court scheme that only made their fast break ability more deadly. From there everyone knows what happened. The Bulls ran off two three-peats in eight years and built a dynasty for the ages in the 1990s.
That formula repeated when Jackson took over with the Los Angeles Lakers. By then they too had a solid core in place with guard Kobe Bryant and center Shaquille O'Neal. Jackson brought the triangle offense, along with his trademark calm and sense of direction through a team-oriented game. Bryant and O'Neal began to mesh together and suddenly the Lakers were the new powerhouse of the NBA. Like the Bulls they rattled off three-straight championships. Eventually egos got in the way and O'Neal left for Miami. It didn't matter. Los Angeles quickly rebuilt the roster around Bryant and won two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
What makes this history so interesting is how much the Nets resemble those two teams. They are loaded with a young core of star power including Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. There is no lack of basketball skill. What they're missing is a sense of "team" to their game. Each man is too busy trying to make the big play rather than executing their assignments. Jackson thrives on that, the ability to check egos at the door and get down to the business of winning.
Jackson is the only coach Deron Williams can't run out of town
Star power also goes both ways. One major knock on Nets star point guard Deron Williams is he holds the label of coach killer. Looking at his history suggests there is a lot of truth to the statement. Long-time Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan resigned shortly after a halftime argument with Williams. Then when he came to New Jersey it didn't take long for then coach Avery Johnson to get canned, again citing a confrontation with Williams about how the Nets offense was run. Now P.J. Carlesimo felt the same sting after just one season on the bench. At this point people must wonder if any coach can withstand the black aura of Williams.
Sometimes the best way to counteract a star player is with a star coach.
Jackson has nothing to prove to anybody. Williams has zero rings as a player. Jackson has two as a player and eleven as a head coach. Any owner in his right mind would take his side in an argument about basketball. If there is one person who can squash the authority of Williams as the de facto man in charge it is the Zen Master.
Building great benches was a cornerstone of Jackson's reign
However the most important aspect of why Jackson fits what Brooklyn needs is inherant in what they lack. Going into the season experts saw a great starting lineup but little to no impact from the bench. Ultimately that is what doomed against Chicago. In his two stints with the Bulls and Lakers, Jackson built his reputation on building great benches behind the stars. Names like Cliff Levingston, B.J. Armstrong, Will Purdue, and Toni Kukoc bring back great memories for Chicago fans. Los Angeles faithful remember the glory days of Lamar Odom, Robert Horry, and Brian Shaw. Jackson believed a team is only as good as its depth.
If the Nets want any chance of removing the stigma of failures and to challenge the Miami Heat in the east then forking over the cash for Phil Jackson is their best option.