If you have but 1 article to read today, make it this one.
Bill Plaschke’s take, on the background to why, exactly …
He may have mastered Zen, but he has not mastered Los Angeles.
There will be no statue of him outside Staples Center. There might not ever be a night honoring his achievements. There will be very little fanfare when he retires, just as there was very little outcry when he left the team several years ago.
He is not Tom Lasorda. He is not Pete Carroll. He is not Mike Scioscia. He is not the sort of folksy personality that this town expects of its high-profile coaches.
More than anything else, he is not Pat Riley.
When longtime Lakers fans think of coaches, they still will think of Riley, even though he coached one fewer season here. Riley looked like Los Angeles. He acted like Los Angeles.
“Pat Riley is the L.A. story,” admitted Jeanie Buss, Lakers executive vice president and Jackson’s longtime girlfriend. “This was the birthplace of him as a coach and a leader, we watched it all happen, it’s like a mother and a child, any success that Pat has, we feel we have part of.”
“Before Phil came here, all I knew about him was that he was a freaky dude who left his job in Chicago on a motorcycle,” said Buss. “I thought that was strange. A freaky dude.”
That is still the way much of Los Angeles looks at Jackson, and that is too bad, because that freaky dude may be the greatest sports leader in this town’s history. That we haven’t completely embraced him is as much about the city as it is about the man.
At the end of the day, it really is all about being able to say with the utmost conviction …
Kudos … all around.