Friday, November 26, 2010
Phil Jackson sorry for Heat comments
By Dave McMenamin
SALT LAKE CITY -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson offered an apology Friday for his comments made earlier in the week about the Miami Heat and their coaching situation.
Only he just might have mixed in another jab in his next breath.
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who was replaced by Pat Riley on Miami's bench during the 2005-06 season in the same fashion Jackson speculated could befall current Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, decried Jackson's comments as "inappropriate" and "ignorant."
When the Heat fell to 8-6 this week, Jackson said: "The scenario that sits kind of behind the scene, is that eventually these guys that were recruited -- Bosh and James -- by 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. 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 backed off Friday.
"It was an off-handed remark about if things continue to go poorly for Miami, what might happen," Jackson said after his team's morning shootaround in preparation for the Utah Jazz. "But, obviously Stan felt that he had to say something. Unfortunately he got defensive about it. I didn't mean to do that. I should apologize because I do not know about his situation."
That was the apology. Now for the jab.
"Stan was going home to be with his family and that was his reason for leaving," Jackson said. "I have no idea about the rest of it; why he came back out [to a head-coaching job] after retiring and being with his family. But, that's his decision and fine."
The 65-year old Hall of Famer sounded more contrite when considering how his comments could have been perceived by Spoelstra.
"I'm not throwing any aspersions on Spoelstra," Jackson said. "He's a very fine young coach."
Ultimately, Jackson stood by his speculation about what could occur if the ultra-talented Heat don't stop their three-game losing streak and turn around their 8-7 record.
"We've been in this game long enough to know what it's like," Jackson said.
During Jackson's pregame remarks Friday, he was asked if he was surprised that his statements resonated throughout the whole state of Florida, considering the reactions that came out of both Miami and Orlando.
"I haven't been to the Sunshine State for a long time and I don't know what tickled their fancy down there so much about that statement," Jackson said. "Is it raining down there now?"
He had little interest in extending the conversation much further.
"We'll stop bantering about it," Jackson said. "Hopefully in this month that we'll get on to basketball. ... I didn't realize that Stan was that sensitive about the issue and that's unfortunate."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.