The Phil Jackson Effect

Hidden within the minor furor Phil Jackson created by comparing Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant in his new book is Jackson's true legacy.

He is the Alexander Graham Bell of the NBA.

Now, before you go assuming I'm a Phil Jackson fan, let me explain.

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that says Bell came into the patent office in 1876 lugging his invention, the telephone. He sat down with the device on his lap, waiting for his appointment.

A few minutes later, a gentleman by the name of Elisha Gray came in with his attorney and sat down in the crowded lobby, across from Bell. On his lap was…another telephone.

The two men stared at each other's inventions, then at each other.

And then they called Bell's name.

That part of the story may be a myth. This part is not: Alexander Graham Bell's appointment was earlier than Elisha Gray's. His patent was the 15th filed on that February day. Gray's was the 39th.

Had Gray made his appointment one day previous, it's his name we'd be force fed in grade-school history class.

Bell was a bright man, no question. But there were other bright men. Bell happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Phil Jackson didn't have the telephone. Instead, he had the aforementioned Jordan and Bryant, two of the greatest players of all time dropped into his coaching lap. Nay, three, when we include Shaquille O'Neal.

As a matter of record, Jackson, who has more NBA jewelry than carpal digits, may be the lord of the rings. But as a coach, I say he's merely the king of being in the right place at the right time.

I say the Phil Jackson effect is nothing more than opportunism.

Let's start with the teams he's coached.

Jackson was preceded as coach of the Chicago Bulls by Doug Collins. The Bulls improved by 10 wins in Collins' first year as head coach. His second year, they imp...

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