The Los Angeles Daily News’ Ross Siler has Lakers coach Phil Jackson taking issue with Charlotte’s treatment of his former reserve, Kareem Rush.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson had strong feelings on the Charlotte Bobcats’ decision to release guard Kareem Rush on Saturday with nine games left in the season and heading nowhere with a 20-53 record.
“I thought it was vindictive,” Jackson said. “I don’t like to see it because he’s one of the guys that we nurtured here. He was contributing to us a lot in the championship (run) two years ago.”
After making six 3-pointers for the Lakers to close out their 2004 Western Conference finals series with Minnesota, Rush (above) found himself out of Rudy Tomjanovich’s rotation and was traded to Charlotte that December for two future second-round draft picks.
Rush started 47 games in two seasons with the Bobcats but battled injuries and fell out of favor. He was dumped Saturday with Charlotte coach/general manager Bernie Bickerstaff issuing a stinging statement in a team press release.
“The Bobcats are about two things – hard work and maximum effort,” Bickerstaff said. “With that in mind, we think that it is best to go in a different direction with Kareem.”
Jackson questioned why the Bobcats couldn’t leave Rush on the inactive list and waive him as soon as the season ended. He didn’t hide his interest in acquiring Rush – both when he returned as coach last summer and possibly again this summer.
“When I came back, one of my first considerations was can we get Kareem Rush back here to play on this basketball club,” Jackson said. “I do value his game and hope that he has a good career.”
Charlotte’s Bickerstaff wasted little time in responding to the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell :
“Phil has that ability,” to judge, Bickerstaff said sarcastically. “He was in our locker room ¦ at our games.”
Then Bickerstaff brought up Jackson’s tell-all memoir, “The Last Season,” on the Lakers’ 2003-04 season. Jackson frequently revealed private conversations in that book and wrote, among other criticisms of players and colleagues, that Kobe Bryant was “uncoachable.”
“He probably forgets he wrote a book for profit and (revealed everybody’s confidences). So he has no credibility,” Bickerstaff said of Jackson.