On Feb. 27, one of my colleagues wrote that head coaches get too much credit and blame for what players do in games.
I rebut this point by using one example: Phil Jackson.
Jackson is the all-time greatest head coach in not just the NBA, but in all four major American sports leagues, having won 11 championships.
Sure, he was privileged having Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on the 1990-98 Chicago Bulls, then Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on the 1999-02 Los Angeles Lakers, but how many of them won without Jackson?
Doug Collins couldn’t get it done with Jordan and Pippen before Jackson took over. Del Harris, Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni haven’t given Bryant any rings. All five of these coaches aren’t exactly known as bad coaches.
Only Pat Riley took O’Neal to a title in 2006 with the Miami Heat, and Riley is up there as one of the NBA’s greatest coaches of all time.
This is no accident. His former players always talk about how his Zen teachings bring the team together and how unique Jackson is from the usual coach. No other coaching staff in the NBA has perfected the Triangle offense into a winning formula; It requires more than just inserting players to make it work.
And this is basketball we’re talking about — the game that celebrates the individual the most.
And this is only on the professional scope. College coaches who recruit players to actually bring them on the field are on a completely different level.
Sure, the players are the ones out actually competing, but who’s behind their schemes and game plan?
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion