Wednesday night's 99-97 win over the Bobcats at Staples didn't just help eliminate the sour taste of Monday's frustrating and slightly controversial loss in Memphis, it also gave Phil Jackson his 534th victory as coach of the Lakers, enough to pass Pat Riley for the all-time franchise lead.
Only one player suited up in purple and gold for both coaches. A.C. Green won two rings with Riley during the Showtime era, then another with Jackson in the '99-'00 season. (Incidentally, the other seven guys who played for both PJ and Riley form a very eclectic list: Shaquille O'Neal, Smush Parker, Chuck Nevitt, Pete Meyers, Gary Payton, Stacey King, and Jimmy Jackson. Go forth and win a trivia contest!)
Green's connection gives him a unique perspective on the iconic coaching pair, so in anticipation of PJ's achievement- here at Land O' Lakers we're always thinking ahead- I spoke to Green late last week and asked him to outline similarities and differences between them:
"Coach Riley was really a guy who was a disciplinarian. He was very much a "team-first" coach. He wanted and emphasized the bonding of players, of families coming together. Being a family unit was very important to him. But at the same time, he was extremely passionate about what he wanted, and what he believed was going to be winning at all costs. The most important aspect was “get the W.”
Phil, on the other hand (is) much more laid back as a coach in his delivery and approach, but very, very strong in his direction. He knows exactly what he wants, and that’s a common bond that they both shared. They had a different method of communicating that to us players, but both were extremely successful in the NBA world, and of course the top two coaches as far as the Lakers and victories in Lakerland...
...Both of the guys, coach Jackson and coach Riley, players have to adapt to their styles, their philosophies. Because someone (speaking of Jackson) doesn’t maybe use as much passion or force in how the way they deliver (direction), you might think they might be more of a “player’s coach” or the atmosphere might be a little bit better than maybe even a coach Riley, who would have a lot more force to his delivery and (was) very confrontational as far as his approach in some ways. But at the same time, players respond differently to direction. What actually gets a player to tick and perform at their highest level (is different.)
I think the majority of guys in today’s league probably would like that more laid back coach who just sort of lets the players handle themselves, and work their way out of problems and situations, and that’s really more the style, of course, of Phil Jackson."