LOS ANGELES - It's official. Phil Jackson finally decided yesterday to return as Los Angeles Lakers head coach, for what appears to be his for real final go-round at the helm of the recently crowned NBA champs.
"Count me in," said Jackson, thereby ending several weeks of should-have-been-unnecessary hand-wringing among those who apparently didn't know any better, in and about the ever-widening Laker camp spread out between L.A.'s Staples Center and Jackson's mountainside retreat above Flathead Lake in northern Montana. "It'll be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one."
Apparently, the lure of another hat-trick three-peat (if pulled off, it'll be his fourth) proved to be too much of a challenge for the hall-of-fame coach to pass up at this point in his already well-documented, over-loaded, illustrious cage career.
Yeah, and I'm guessing the fleet of Mayflower moving vans suddenly being fueled up to transport the first significant installment of the carefully constructed financial compensation required to retain his full-court, zen-like, services as both Master of the Triangle and Mystic Emperor of the Hardwood, plus, the day-in/day-out, mad dog, puppy love of a smokin' hot in-house mama nearly half his soon-to-be senior citizen age, may of had a little something to do, too, with bringing Jeanie's main man back into the cushy confines of the extended Buss family fold. Professional-wise, and, more importantly, the proverbial down home kind, as well.
All of which means that Phil's almost, but not quite, exit…..stage left, plan (or, smokescreen threat?) to spend more quality-like, late-in-life, time with the family, and other non-related back woods critters deep within his spacious Big Sky compound, and/or otherwise attend to his ever-increasing health concerns, will now just have to wait for another year (and, hopefully, one more victory parade) to unwind accordingly, before any sort of next chapter dream can begin to happen, or finally, at long last, for real, be put in motion to come slam-dunk true.
Meanwhile, as expected, the resulting shockwaves of Jackson's decision to re-up for one, glorious, final curtain showdown as Laker courtside general, had an almost immediate ripple effect throughout the league.
*Laker Assistant Coach Brian Shaw quickly finished flirting with the Cleveland Cavaliers for their ongoing coaching vacancy, and returned to the team bench (and his senses), where he'll sit patiently now as on-deck, future-Laker-head-coach-in-waiting.
(Which, considering he was nearly this close to taking over a possible Lebron-less pain-in-the-Cavs-train-wreck, ain't too bad of a return back home through the side door prize. Even if it does require a whole lot of on-site whistle blowing at any future practices and/or summer league contests; plenty of front and center, hands-on, game-time clip board handling; plus, numerous new and improved opportunities to stand around looking serious, and somewhat intently over-concerned during time-outs, while Kobe towels off, chugs the gator's aid, and once again attempts to remind wild card Mr. Artest that, until further notice, it's he (Mr. B.) who's THE one to take any last-second three's in these parts, thank you. Especially when another V is on the line, and Nicholson's latest parlay with Bob Rafelson is still up in the air.)
According to Shaw, his final decision to return home was also immeasurably helped along by some eleventh hour handiwork by longtime Laker premier seat goddess Dyan Cannon.
"What can I say?" Shaw said, while he and KCAL/710 ESPN nose-to-the-ground sporting news hound John Ireland raced through LAX watching Rachael Ray on their Slingboxes. "Some gal's just know how to pick and roll. Especially the old-school ones."
*Ex-(Showtime-era)-Laker, and former NBA coach Byron Scott, switched horses and took the Cavalier's pitch, rather than park it for another season, only to then, presumably, be required to get into a more or less messy sword duel with Shaw once Jackson moves on as expected.
(Oh well. Looking on the bright side, Byron might be able to flip any forthcoming Browns' season tickets to his pick of no-neck, multi-ethnic, mid-west sorts (each, no doubt, sporting a well-earned plumber's crack - especially those on the distaff side of the burning lake - to help accent their already fully in place 46-year-hangover since the last time their rustbelt town saw any semblance of a sporting champ), and then, you know, spend the rest of the afternoon admiring some of Jeff Beck's no longer in-use guitar picks, and/or any Fender Stratocaster he's still got left hanging there on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wall.)
As tweeted by longtime (used to be big-time, girth-wise) sports radio icon Joe McDonnell, Scott claims to be (surprisingly enough) a major Husker Du fan as well, which should come as no real shock to those already familiar with his kill or be killed tendency to drive his round ball troops with a looped-up version of "Reoccurring Dreams" from the legendary Gopher State trio's landmark 1984 epic, "Zen Arcade."
"It's either that, or drive 'em totally nuts with anything by L7," Scott said, while overseeing a team of well organized suit wranglers, as they emptied out the business and formal wear annex to his Manhattan Beach estate in preparation for their immediate relocation to a hopefully climate controlled warehouse vault just east of Parma, Ohio. "In which case, it's "Hungry For Stink" for everyone, until either I say otherwise, or some of Stern's goons show up to try and shut us down before any of the more vocal clueless local clergy finally does."
*Reserve Laker point-guard (and Game 7 crunch time hero) Sasha "The Machine" Vujacic immediately picked up his (so far) only half-finished copy of "Fathers and Sons" by Ivan Turgenev, in hopes that maybe he'll get around to finishing the highly regarded Ruskie classic (which Coach Jackson gave him last season to help bolster his confidence and team-oriented commitment while waiting for his ailing ankle to mend) in time to meet the inevitable onslaught of carefully chosen prose, poetry, and non-fiction destined to come his way, volume upon volume, next season.
And, from what furry KLAC mainstay Vic "The Brick" Jacobs has recently reported, Sasha should most def-like get cracking, as in, like yesterday soon, since the books in question are only going to keep coming and piling up, once, of course, Phil's annual shipment of assorted Albert Camus and Raymond Carver paperbacks arrive from Vintage, and Sean Penn finishes thumbing through what's left of Action Jackson's hard to find Bukowski and Fante first-editions.
"It could, I guess, be worse," Vujacic observed, while recently hiding in an undisclosed "appointment only" West Hollywood nail saloon, after an excitable squadron of breathless underage, jail-bait oriented shoppers caught sight of him wandering around unprotected at Fred Segal's on Melrose. "I mean, I'm open for anything, but just not anymore of that Joan Didion lady, and all her slouching somewhere she thinks we ought to not get around to going back to, now that whatever it was, is now all over and supposedly done with, until the, I guess, winds of Santa somebody get through kicking up again."
*On an even more lesser observed note, D.W. "Griffith" Albert (son of J. Edgar "Scooter" Albert, and - as luck and an uncertain amount of in-family squabbling would have it, ever since a somewhat infamous 2001 4th of July cook-out potato sack race - already written out of the will of legendary velvet-voiced play-by-play announcer, Uncle Marv) and noted Wild Bill Wellman scholar John A. Gallagher, the award-winning producers and financial windfall geniuses behind ESPN2's latest, perpetual basic cable TV, sports & entertainment goldmine, "Six Knix Pick Flix," were suddenly forced to scramble around once it was clear that Jackson would not be the thought-to-be almost locked-in final face-time piece for the upcoming 2010/11 version of their popular weekly series, that, for sometime now, has done what it can (and a whole lot more!) to continually advise the thinking "sporting" man/cinephile about what films to view, buy, rent, or avoid, before someone with less obvious hops, or an inability to make a key free throw, tells them to do the same.
"The hope was," Albert explained, while sorting through the show's well-lit underground cavern of DVD's and still unopened VHS copies (many of which were recently acquired at a Walt Bellamy pre-death estate sale) a quarter-mile beneath their business is booming broadcast facility in Edgewater, NJ, that since Phil was pretty much the only ex-Knick around, other than of course, Michael Ray Richardson, to know his Von Sternberg from his Von Stroheim, we thought he'd fit in real well once more with Clyde (Walt Frazier), Earl "The Pearl" (Monroe), Cazzie (Russell), the Captain (Willis Reed), and The Senator (Bill Bradley), since, well since, each of those fellas is still the kind of goober to go back twice to see "Grown Ups." Or, worse yet, go on and on, and, of course, run us straight out of Kleenex because of something as silly as "The Notebook" or "Hell Up In Harlem."
Or, as Gallagher, was so quick to remind anyone not yet heading to the nearest exit, "Because Phil's already so well versed in such home grown masters as Aldrich, Fuller, Minnelli, Ray, Siegel, and Walsh, and can, without breaking much of a sweat, except where it counts, still teach us all a thing, or two, about Antonioni, Bertolucci, Bunuel, Leone, Malle, Rohmer, and Sirk, well, we figured we were all set, and were already counting on him for some big important things during this next year.
"And besides," he added, " Jerry Lucas already turned us down, mainly because last year we didn't include him in either of our special tributes to Stephane Audran and Susan Hayward."
Even though Albert and Gallagher are still undecided about which way they're prepared to go, now that Jackson has renewed his quest for NBA Championship title ring #14 (so far, two as a playing member of the New York Knicks in the 70s, to go along with the eleven he's picked up as head coach of the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls and Bryant/Shaq/Fisher L.A. Lakers.), there has been some recent speculation that either Dick Barnett or Mike Riordan might now get a call to come in off the bench in time to join the others (along with current show host Warner Wolf) for another year of hopefully wacky, yet informative, cinematic discussions.
That is, unless, of course, things start to bog down a bit, as they usually seem to do whenever someone makes the semi-fatal mistake of mentioning "Beaches" and "Sheba, Baby" in the same sentence.
In which case, expect a whole lot of dead basic cable air to happen again, once the classy starting five, and whoever's to be the next all-important sixth man, suddenly each forget about finding the open man, and instead proceed to get all lost, for the moment, trading teary-eyed thoughts about what remains, for them anyway, perhaps the most lethal of double features to ever consider, that doesn't, of course, otherwise involve the likes of L.A.'s West and Chamberlin from their altogether memorable once upon a time glory days.
Meanwhile, Laker fans everywhere are rejoicing. Jackson's back, and, together, they got 'em for one more big season-saving chase for another NBA Championship to join all the others currently dangling from the Staples Center rafters.
Dodgers? What Dodgers? Who said anything about Dodgers?
Around these parts, as of late, nary a soul.