Posted by Scott Howard-Cooper
OKLAHOMA CITY – A day after commissioner David Stern threatened to begin suspending coaches and players for criticizing referees, Lakers coach Phil Jackson, one of the main targets of the hard-line message, jabbed back at Stern but said he would probably tone down future comments.
“I think when you start throwing one- and two-game suspensions in the threats, I think that means a lot to both ball clubs and to coaches,” Jackson said Friday before Lakers practice at the Ford Center. “It seems awful heavy-handed to me, but David is one that isn’t shy about being heavy-handed.
“There’s a certain gamesmanship that goes on that he obviously he feels cheapens the game. It never was explained to us until it suddenly came down here this last week that arbitrarily they’re going to do this. I missed the coach’s meeting this last September, so maybe they explained it at the coach’s meetings last year because they said there were a couple instances last year where, I think, it was [Stan] Van Gundy and [Rick]Adelman were fined during the playoffs for statements that led to manipulating the press, I guess is the best way I can say it. I don’t know how you guys could be so naïve, being members of the Fifth Estate, Third Estate, Second Estate or whatever estate you’re members of.”
But when asked whether Stern should be fed up with what has become a steady stream of comments on the officiating, Jackson said: “I don’t think so. I think there’s a situation here that – favoritism on the NBA court, I don’t think anybody’s going to be deluded into thinking that people don’t gets calls on the court regardless of how you say it. It’s just a natural evolution of the game and a natural evolution of who gets the ball the most, and they’re going to end up a lot of times at the foul line. Unfortunately it didn’t work that way for Kobe [Bryant] last night but it did for Kevin [Durant]. But that’s the way things go in this game. You have to accept it, swallow it, and move on.”
Durant attempted 13 free throws Thursday and Bryant none, just after Stern said in a press conference before tipoff that “coaches should be quiet, because this is a good business that makes them good livings and supports a lot of families. And if they don’t like it, they should go get a job someplace else.” The commissioner later added, “And if someone wants to try me the rest of this playoffs, make my day.”
Bryant was asked about the discrepancy after the defeat that cut the Lakers lead to 2-1.
“I’m not quite sure how to answer that,” he said.
“Yeah. Both teams played hard.”