Phil Jackson met the media before Tuesday's game wearing a pin on his lapel reading "Hoops for St. Jude."
"It's concerning George Karl's treatment for cancer, and that's a cause he supports."
While Jackson agreed many would see them as rivals, he noted (as you'd expect) how Karl's battle with throat cancer trumps sideline vs. sideline dynamics. The two seem to have a healthy respect for each other. "George, we've been rivals for a long time," Jackson said. "He actually took over in Albany, New York after I left the Albany Patroons, a couple years later. He's coached in a many different spots that are kind of similar to what I've done. I went from my home in Flathead to watch his team in Great Falls when he was a CBA coach, coaching in the Finals of the CBA one year. He was wearing a powder blue tux with a white ruffled shirt. Something I really think is crazy. And of course (former Laker) Coby (Karl) was born there, in Great Falls that spring. So there's a lot of connections that go back between the Karls and myself."
Phil was also asked about Michael Jordan assuming majority ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats, calling it a "great opportunity" for the city to recapture some of the enthusiasm for the NBA perhaps missing since the days when the Hornets first made Charlotte a pro city.
It's always difficult for great players to assume positions where they have less control, whether as a coach or executive. There is space to exert influence, but nothing remotely like what could be done with the ball in their hands.
"I don't think there's any discussion about knowing talent. He sees talent, he knows talent pretty well. I think he can understand that concept," Jackson said. "I think a lot of key players see those ingredients in other players; Jerry West kind of picking up on Kobe Bryant being that kind of player when he's a high school guy. I think the other aspect of it that's difficult is being a coach, when you have to have a lot of players who don't have the talent you might of possessed, and not understanding the reality that they can't get the job done in some situations. You can't hold it against a player. The talent's not there perhaps to do all the things you could do. To make the shot or make the play."
"But as far ownership goes, and general managers, I think a lot of players are capable of doing that job. You just have to be able to connive a little bit, and have to be able to manipulate agents, and it takes a poker player sometimes to do that."
There are fans in Washington and Charlotte who would vehemently disagree with PJ's contention Jordan can evaluate talent, but I didn't really expect Jackson to be hard on his former star. Personally, I don't see anything in MJ's post-player career indicating he'll be able to guide the Bobcats to elite status. A great deal could depend on how much control he demands as owner.
Success would be good for the game, though. I'm sure David Stern is pulling for him.