Wednesday, November 24, 2010
SVG: What's Phil Jackson thinking?
By Kevin Arnovitz
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Magic coach Stan Van Gundy called Phil Jackson "inappropriate" and "ignorant" for hypothesizing that the Heat soon could change coaches if the ultratalented team doesn't shake its sluggish start.
Jackson drew attention -- and some ire -- after discussing the fallout to the Heat's slow start under coach Erik Spoelstra during an interview Tuesday with ESPN 1000 in Chicago.
"That record, I think, says a lot about coming together with some real talented guys, and not having a base," the Lakers coach said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show."
Jackson went on to say, "The scenario that sits kind of behind the scene, is that eventually these guys that were recruited -- [Chris] Bosh and [LeBron] James -- by [team president] Pat Riley and Micky Arison, the owner, are going to come in and say, 'We feel you [Riley] can do a better job coaching the team. We came here on the hopes that this would work,' and whatever, I don't know," Jackson said. "That's kind of my take on it, is that eventually if things don't straighten out here soon, it could be the Van Gundy thing all over again."
Jackson's direct analogy to the events that precipitated Van Gundy's departure in Miami during the 2005-06 season particularly irritated the Magic's coach.
"Phil has no idea what the Van Gundy situation was because, even though he coaches in our league, he certainly had no insight or knowledge of that," Van Gundy said Wednesday. "So an analogy he'd make to my situation would be totally useless because he doesn't have any clue what the situation was in that case."
Van Gundy resigned in December 2005 after the Heat went 11-10 through the early stretch of their season. Although he cited personal reasons for resigning, many observers maintain that Van Gundy was forced out by Riley. In the five years since his departure, Van Gundy has insisted repeatedly that the prevailing views of his exit are patently false -- an opinion he reiterated in the wake of Jackson's comments.
"To second-guess another coach and comment on a situation he knows nothing about -- it's inappropriate. And it's also ignorant," Van Gundy said. "I don't mean that commenting on Phil's intelligence. He's obviously a very smart guy. I mean it as ignorant [in that] he doesn't know what that situation was and he doesn't know what the situation is now.
"I don't think, unless their relationship has changed drastically, that [Jackson] and Pat talk on a regular basis. So I doubt he would have any information whatsoever on what's going on in Miami."
Asked about Jackson's assessment of the situation in Miami, Spoelstra had a considerably more light-hearted reply.
"My coaching staff was giving me some grief about it, they got a good chuckle out of it," Spoelstra said. "Everybody has had something to say about us, I can't expect that I would be excluded from that. I'm sure people are saying some stuff about me out there, other than him, too."
Spoelstra even had a chuckle over the comparison to Van Gundy.
"I'm single, so I don't anticipate I'll be taking a leave with the team to spend time with my family," Spoelstra joked.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade was taken aback by Jackson's comments, though he conceded that the 11-time NBA champion has earned a certain license to speak candidly.
"The only thing surprising about it is a coach saying it about another coach," Wade said. "I respect someone else to say it but not another coach. It is unfortunate but I guess Coach Jackson had earned the right to say what he wants so he continues to exercise that right."
The Magic beat the Heat 104-95 on Wednesday to drop Miami to 8-7.
Kevin Arnovitz covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.