I am ready to wash my hands of Phil Jackson. So far, the special consultant in the Detroit Pistons' coaching search has seemingly recommended the hiring of his friend and former protege Brian Shaw (shocker), he's also barely been in town at all and seemingly done nothing to help the search.
And now Jackson is insulting the Pistons most recent championship. That would be the 2004 title where Detroit bested the Phil Jackson-coached Los Angeles Lakers. The Pistons, you see, didn't use a great defense to beat the Lakers. Instead, they basically cheated, so says Jackson. Here is what he said in a radio interview with Scott Van Pelt, per Vincent Goodwill at the Detroit News:
Jackson proceeded to seemingly take a shot at the Pistons and former coach Larry Brown, insinuating the Pistons flopped against O'Neal during that series and that it led to the Lakers' demise.
"Larry Brown taught guys to go down (flop) on Shaq and that's one of the reasons they won in '04," Jackson said. "He had the center, (Ben) Wallace as the David in that matchup and those (plays) were called as charges."
[...] "Shaq would put a shoulder into you and test how close he could get to the basket," said Jackson, who's on a tour promoting his book "Eleven Rings."
This is the same Pistons team that was No. 2 in defensive efficiency during the regular season. This is the same Pistons team that completely outclassed the Lakers in every phase of the game and won four out of five games, with the Lakers only winning game 2 on some Kobe Bryant heroics.
I mean, it is not like it is hard to check the veracity of Jackson's dumb comments. You can look into the supposed flopping going on in the 2004 NBA Finals by checking the play-by-play game logs for the five-game series and looking for offensive fouls.
That is because if Ben Wallace was flopping when Shaquille O'Neal got the ball in the post (Jackson's claim), you'd think Shaq would have been called for a raft of offensive fouls.
No foul equals no flop.
Alternatively, if there was a flop but it wasn't called that means Wallace is on the ground and O'Neal has an easy basket. An obvious plus for the Lakers.
Shaquille O'Neal was call for
five four offensive fouls the entire series, according to game logs at basketball-reference, and never more than once in any game.
Still not enough evidence?
O'Neal never fouled out against the Pistons, amassing 4, 5, 5, 4 and 4 fouls, respectively. O'Neal played 22 games in the postseason that year and had less than four fouls only four times. He was just a guy that always accumulated fouls.
Still not enough evidence?
The Lakers never seemed to be terribly worried about O'Neal collecting fouls as he played heavy minutes in every game of the series, including three games of 45+ minutes. He also wasn't afraid to shoot as he averaged nearly 17 shot attempts in the series.
Conclusion: Phil Jackson can't admit he was outplayed and outcoached by Larry Brown and the Pistons in 2004. He can't admit that maybe the failure of his team had something to do with a fractured locker room, a reliance on players past their prime and a team that lacked depth and versatility outside of Bryant and O'Neal.
And he refuses to even consider the most obvious fact -- the better team, the Detroit Pistons, won the championship. And not by flopping but by, as coach Larry Brown was so fond of saying, "playing the right way."
This post has been significantly updated so as to thoroughly dismantle Jackson's argument.