Living in a Laker World - Phil Jackson Returns from the Grave

Kevork Djansezian

Try as we like, it's impossible for a Clipper fan to pretend the Lakers don't exist... or matter.

Here at Clips Nation we try pretty hard to focus exclusively on the LA Clippers and the comings and goings of that funky little franchise. This past summer we did everything we could to ignore the "Dwightmare". When Lebron made his "Decision", once it became clear the King wasn't headed to the Clippers, we pretty much ignored any news about him. But, with the firing of Mike Brown, and the apparent re-emergence of Phil Jackson as the Lakers' coach, it's become impossible to ignore the goings-on of our Staples co-tenants.

Of course that's the way it is with the Lakers and their fans, when they're on top, it's to be expected, when they're down it's only temporary. They are the sainted ones. They are god's franchise.

Of course, the most commented-on story on our own blog the last few days was the one on Laker coach Mike Brown's firing. We've studied (perhaps gleefully) what a poor management decision firing a head coach after six games of the regular season might be. We quietly giggled and pondered about the curious fit of Eddie Jordan, Steve Nash, and the Princeton offense. We scoffed at the Laker's paper thin bench, their aging starting unit, the strange case of former all-star Pau Gasol, lost and ineffective, wandering around in a world he doesn't seem to understand.

We laughed at the arrogance of the mullet-headed rich kid owner Jim Buss, who'd been given the reins of one of the most powerful franchises in sport and made some curious and rock-headed decisions along the way (not all of them bad, but the hiring of Mike Brown was... curious and short-sighted). Junior Buss seemed determined to prove himself, flex his muscles, even if it tarnished some of the franchise's vaunted purple and gold. We engaged in mild schadenfreude, risked a bit of our karmic bankroll on watching the Lakers make what to almost everyone appeared to be a series of bad decisions. Well, we deserve it, right? After all we have suffered as fans of a franchise long and widely considered the worst in sport. (If you haven't read it, go read Tom Ziller's excellent piece on "Jim Buss and the Myth of Exceptionalism". Ziller's a Sacramento King fan, there's no one who's suffered more from the Laker's heroic myth more than Kings fans.

But, with the re-emergence of Phil Jackson as a candidate for head coach, it's no longer possible for Clipper fans to blithely smile and ignore the going's on in the house next door. We thought Jackson was dead. We thought Jim Buss stuck a wooden stake through his heart, buried him in a muddy field, and expunged his memory from the halls of Lakerland.

There's a lot of questions here, a lot of palace-intrigue. Is it true that Jerry Buss came out of self-imposed retirement and over-ruled his son? If Phil comes back, will he re-install the Triangle offense? How will Steve Nash fit in such a scheme? Will Phil replace the coaching staff and bring back longtime assistants Brian Shaw or Kurt Rambis? Will he bring back Ronnie Lester as chief scout (so famously and symbolically fired by Jim Buss during last year's lockout)? What will happen to Jim Buss? Has he been publicly shamed?

Of course the greatest question, can Phil Jackson, the legend, turn this ship around? Can he re-form this collection of mis-matched and aging parts and make them play together? Can he find some bandaids and unlikely heroes on a bench composed of gauze and turpentine? Can Phil Jackson magically make the 2012 Lakers win?

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