The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy takes time out from helping the Foulke family pack their belongings to poll the Lakers’ Phil Jackson for thoughts on his contentious relationship with the late Red Auerbach.
Red didn’t like the idea of a former member of the New York Knicks closing in on his record of nine NBA championships as a coach. When Jackson was getting close to clinching his own No. 9 with the 2001-02 Lakers, Red had a hard time being gracious. Old Arnold said Jackson was a guy who “picked his spots.” Red reminded us that he’d assembled his teams all by himself. There were no scouts and no assistants.
“It’s a very different game now,” Jackson said, reluctantly defending his record. “It’s hard to compare eras. The Celtics ran six plays. They won 11 championships. They had five or six variations off those plays. But it’s not like today where there’s 30 different offensive sets. But basketball is still basketball. It’s fundamentals. It’s execution. It’s determination. It’s defense.”
“Without a doubt, it was a New York vs. Boston thing,” Jackson said as he stood in the Laker locker room last week. “It was never about an individual. It was about New York, but not about me. When I got to the Knicks there was still all that innuendo about how many times the Celtics had beaten the Knicks over the years. How Allie McGuire would stand up on the training table and say, ‘I’m going to shut out Bob Cousy,’ then he’d foul out in six minutes and say, ‘See, he didn’t score on me.’ It was the whole Celtic-Knick rivalry. We’d look up in the stands and see the students from New York fighting the kids from Boston. It was very heated. There was a mystique about it. A fire alarm went off at 3 in the morning when we were there in ’73.”
Really? That’s the same complaint Pat Riley submitted when he brought the Lakers to Boston for the finals in 1984, ’85, and 87.
“The 1980s Lakers were not the first team that that happened to,” said a smiling Jackson