It is the most notorious trait of Phil Jackson coached teams. Call it RCH: Residual Championship Hangover.
Currently, PJ is working on an unprecedented fourth three-peat. Let that soak in for a minute…we’ll never see another human being approach this summit. In his previous three-peats (plural), Jackson’s teams tend to have waning interest and motivation during the regular season. Just look at the Kobe-Shaq dynasty and you’ll see what I mean.
Those teams increasingly lost interest in the regular season with each banner hung to the point where their focus failed at the worst time – in the Finals against the Detroit Pistons.
Maybe it is too early to read too much into how the Lake Show has gone about its business in the preseason. So far the Lakers have two wins against one Black Mamba appearance. The Mamba, still struggling to find his legs, poked his head out with a stellar 19-point third quarter explosion against Utah. Otherwise Kobe’s shooting (2 for 13 last night) continues to be the hottest topic this side of Michael Jordan’s list of the 10 best guards to play the game.
The team we’re seeing sleepwalk through the preseason is not at full strength, this we know. No Bynum, Bryant’s bum knee, Matt Barnes has more on his mind than hoops, Odom is probably already tired of seeing hardwood and Jackson has been playing his starters big minutes.
Somewhere there is a disconnect. Not saying the team is tuning out Phil but the on-court effort is lacking.
Phil finally let his starting 5 get a little rest as no starter played more than 32 minutes last night with Pau Gasol getting the most tick at 31. Attribute that to the head coach not wanting to burn out his boys on the back end of a back-to-back. But you’d better believe Jackson would much prefer to let them run as much as possible until the chemistry clicks.
Not all is bad. Ron Artest is the anti-Kobe at the minute shooting a stunning 47% from the field and a healthy 42% from beyond the arc. Shannon Brown’s well-rounded game is also an eye opener. Is it too early to get his name on the NBA 6th Man watch list? Rookie Devin Ebanks is making a case for being a part of Phil’s rotation.
Still, the overall effort is what is most disconcerting. Two games against Golden State are all that stand between the Lakers and their ring ceremony. Hopefully the team that opens the season will give an effort that resembles the one that closed out Boston in 7 last season.