SRI continues to work in new writers. This post is courtesy of Chris Fedor of WKNR in Cleveland. Two years ago, the Lakers made it to the NBA Finals where they were pretty much blown away by the Boston Celtics and had some of their weaknesses exposed. They came back hungrier and more focused than ever to capture the NBA title in the 2008-2009 season. The Lakers finished with the best record in the Western Conference and carried home court advantage throughout the playoffs in the Western Conference, something that was pivotal to their success. LA also had a healthy Andrew Bynum coming back, a better Trevor Ariza and a full season with Pau Gasol. Things lined up perfectly for Kobe Bryant to get his fourth ring and Phil Jackson to continue to cement his legacy as one of the best coaches in NBA history with his 10th NBA title. The Lakers went on to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy by beating the Orlando Magic and they are coming back this season with maybe even a better roster than the one that won the title. The Lakers lost Trevor Ariza in the offseason to Houston, but they added Ron Artest to try to make a run at back-to-back NBA Championships. Ron Artest certainly comes with some risk, but when he stays in line he’s a very dynamic player. Phil Jackson joined Fox Sports Radio with Petros and Money to talk about coming off an NBA title, the addition of Ron Artest and his future with the Lakers.
On whether or not there is any difference in the feeling this year in the offseason as opposed to the season before:
“Well, I don’t know about relief. I just know there’s a certain sense of angst when you lose. There’s a certain bad taste where you’re like ‘oh man, we got to where we wanted to go, but didn’t get the job done.’ You have to be happy getting to those positions in basketball and getting the opportunities, but I hate to mess it up when you get there. We just felt like we weren’t quite experienced enough as a team. We were still a little bit young and still a little bit green in our combination of chemistry and personality and how to use ourselves in the best possible way.”
On message for the team this year coming off a title:
“I don’t think it’s emotional at all. I think it’s a very logical, plotted course that we have to take. There’s no doubt that the West is still going to be a tough, tough conference to survive. We’re going to have to plan our way through a marathon race without any injuries or hiccups in the year to get to where we want to get to. I like the way we worked last year as a basketball team. I think the year before we did a great job finishing the year and getting those 60 something wins. I would like to see us be able to have a season like that again without running dry or pushing ourselves to the limit that would cause some kind of effect in our playoff run. Everybody knows the second season is what really counts in how you play.”
On whether he knows how he’s going to use Ron Artest:
“Yes I do. I’ve spent some time thinking about it. Ron has a real knack of being a top defender and an aggressive player on the defensive end of the court. I felt a couple of years ago when we were looking for some people that could help this team move up in the rankings from where we were, we entertained the idea of trying to get Ron on the team to bring that toughness and defensive mentality to our team. This is really an addition to our game that we think is important. Not to say that we’re not going to miss (Trevor) Ariza. We’re definitely going to miss Trevor in our game. There’s a certain sense of how he plays. He didn’t need a lot of shots, he didn’t need a lot of things run for him as a player to be happy and to contribute. His defensive capabilities and steals to get through picks and get back to his man were invaluable to us last year in the playoffs. But we think overall that we probably have a more balanced and difficult team to defend and to score against on this team. I think Ron’s going to be a really big addition to this team. Not only defensively, but he can do some things offensively that’ll be able to help our team and people will be surprised.”