Coach Meyer: Jackson vs. Rivers in NBA Finals

"COACH'S CORNER"
With Two-Time AFC Coach of the Year RON MEYER

COACHING COMPARISON: PHIL JACKSON VS. DOC RIVERS

I've previewed the coaching matchups in every playoff series this year, so you might not think there's much NEW I can add about the two men who will be leading their teams into battle Thursday Night when the NBA Championship series gets under way.

WRONG!

I realized there was something I hadn't talked about yet...and something that the mainstream media has completely ignored regarding these men. It revolves around the influence that these former players have on current players.

  • PHIL JACKSON was a 6'8" defensive specialist with the New York Knicks in the late 1960's and much of the 1970's. He had long arms, so he played taller than his height. He was considered a very smart player, who fit in well with a smart team (remember Bill Bradley from the championship Knicks became a senator).

Kobe Bryant gets most of the attention when people talk about the Lakers. But, outside of Bryant, there's a clear bias towards the Jackson "type" of player. Tall. Long. Smart. And a general emphasis on defense and rebounding that helps them win games.

Pau Gasol is kind of an offensive version of Jackson as a player. He's tall with long arms, and has a great basketball sense. Listen to any interview, and Gasol will strike you as a very smart player.

Ron Artest? It's funny to think of Artest and Jackson as being similar. On the floor, the comparisons are valid. One reason Jackson can get the most out of Artest is that he has respect for what Artest does best. Defensive pests who disrupt the opponent are extremely valuable in playoff basketball.

Even Lamar Odom is a tall smart player who puts the needs of the team ahead of his own personal glory.

It's amazing how much the Lakers as a unit play like Phil Jackson did with the Knicks.

  • DOC RIVERS was a point guard who played from 1983 to 1996 with four different NBA teams. What's the single most important factor in Boston's return to glory this season? The development of point guard Rajon Rondo, who's become a true impact player in a very short time.

I must have heard 50 different reporters and pundits giving Rondo credit for his superlative play in the earlier rounds. They talked about his maturity. His gradual understanding of what it means to be a good teammate. His ability to get to the free throw line. How hard it was for opponents to get in the way and stop what he was doing. You could say that he was the reason they beat Cleveland and LeBron James, though he did start to wear down late in the Orlando series.

How about mentioning that Rondo has blossomed as a point guard while playing under a former point guard?!

You can't talk all the history you want with a Lakers/Celtics series. The history that really matters this week is Jackson's history as a smart, long armed defender, and Rivers history as a smart high energy point guard.

If the Lakers don't defend and rebound well, Jackson's team won't win the trophy this year.

If Rondo can't wreak havoc with penetration, Rivers' team won't win the trophy this year.

I've had great success all through MARCH MADNESS and the NBA PLAYOFFS because I handicap from a coaching perspective. You can be certain I'll have some strong releases here in the finals. You can sign up for my service by calling 1-877-540-8787. Game day releases and packages can be purchased here at the website as well.

Both the Lakers and the Celtics have reached the finals again because they have successful coaches in their corner. It's time for YOU to be the best you can be by putting A COACH IN YOUR CORNER!

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