As Phil Jackson Prepares the Lakers for the Western Conference Finals, he Says the Chances are ‘Pretty Good’ that he will Retire at Season’s End

The Western Conference Finals get underway tonight in Los Angeles. After a grueling series in round one that saw the Lakers tested by the Oklahoma City Thunder, LA cruised past the Jazz and swept them out of the playoffs in the conference semifinals.  The way the Lakers dominated Utah left many people thinking that the defending champs were regaining the form that they showed throughout the playoffs last year. Kobe Bryant looked like vintage Kobe, Pau Gasol was a monster the entire series, having his way with the undersized frontline of the Jazz, Derek Fisher was once again making big shots, and even Ron Artest found a way to put the ball in the hoop. However, since their sweep against the Jazz, Kobe Bryant hasn’t been able to practice much, and Andrew Bynum’s knee is hurting more each passing day. If that’s not bad enough, the defending champs will have to get past a team that is coming off a sweep against their biggest rival.  Since the Suns decided to hang onto Amar’e Stoudemire at the trade deadline, Phoenix has been as good as anyone in the NBA. There is one department though where the Lakers will undoubtedly have a huge advantage over Phoenix – their coach, Phil Jackson, has been here before and will find a way to put his team in the best position to win. Phil Jackson joined Fox Sports Radio with Petros and Money to talk about how much the layoff could hurt the Lakers given how well they played against Utah, the injury to Andrew Bynum and how much that could affect LA in this series, what makes Steve Nash so uniquely special, and how there’s a ‘pretty good’ chance that he opts to retire after this season.

On how much they may be affected by a long layoff:

“No doubt momentum is a big part of this game.  Replicating your game or whatever is easy to do if you play relatively consistently every other game or every third night.  We’re gonna have to rekindle our game.  So we had a day off here and a day off there and now we’re gonna practice three days in a row.  No doubt it helps and assists guys.  Like Artest’s shoulder, some guys had injuries, obviously Kobe and Andrew, guys who have made it through the season, through the series, and yet are nursing some minor injuries that are afflicting them.  It keeps out the swelling and we can get things done.  You always hope you’re as sharp as you wanna be when you’re defending your home court.  When you’re on the road, you can go in and just say you hope to get one out of two on the road.  In this kind of situation it’s almost like the advantage is to the Phoenix Suns in some ways.”

On the play of Andrew Bynum in the Utah series and whether or not it could’ve been injury related:

“No, but I do think it was injury based.  The locker rooms in Utah are bandbox size.  When it gets to be playoffs and there’s 30 guys in the locker room, Andrew getting activated and getting to a level we want him to be at to start the game, I thought was noticeable.  Game number two, we tried to get him a little more activated and we tried to take him out to a spot where he could do some workout activation things before the game started and I thought he was better in that ballgame.  Hopefully we can get that back.  We need him and his size helps us a lot.”

On what separates Steve Nash from other point guards in the NBA:

“I don’t know if anybody puts passes better on the shooters hand with his off hand, his left hand, than Steve Nash does.  I think he is probably even better left than he is right.  He can throw the pass, he can hook the pass, he can throw sidearm on the pass, he can throw underhand to guys on the numbers, and there’s not too many guys better at lobs and over the top passes and throwing the ball from 40 or 50 feet to a streaking player down court than Steve Nash.  Those are all special talents that he has that almost exclusively belong to him in the NBA.  There are other guys that are very good at one or two of those things, but maybe not that whole retina of assist opportunities and assist capabilities.  His shooting is great.  I think he was one of the few people that was able to shoot over 50 percent from the field, over 40 percent from the three point line, and 90 percent from the free throw line in the history of the game.  That says enough in itself.  He’s been the MVP player a couple of times.  We know he’s a quarter of a step slow, I’m not gonna say a half of step slow, but a quarter of a step slower than he’s been in the past.  We have to be wary of what he’s gonna do.  He’s gonna generate the pace.  He’s got the ability to quarterback the team and generate the pace of the game.  We have to be really careful about how involved we get in the pace and provide our own pace and will it on the Suns.”

On the chances of him retiring after this season:

“Well I think it’s pretty good.  It’s really about how I feel about getting into another 82 game season.  It’s a commitment.  As you guys know, it’s not about this last month of April, May, and part of June to coach.  That’s exciting, fun, challenging, and you’ve got a team in a seven game series that brings out all those ideas and percolates things as a coach.  But it’s those other 82 games, the exhibition season, and being in five different cities in eight different nights or seven different nights.  It kinda wears and tears and kinda creates a life that gets a little bit ragged and a little bit jagged.  Obviously I have the pace of that.  I know a lot about it having done it for a large part of my life, maybe 35 years of my adult life.  I’ve got a little bit of the rhythm of it, but it is something that I think about as the season gets to the end.  You know last road trip and stuff like that.  You wonder is there a time where you just feel like I’ve had enough, I just don’t want to do it anymore.  It’s enough is enough.”

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