And now…for life after Phil.Â The best, most decorated coach in the history of the game has hung ‘em up for good, or at least until the New York Knicks come calling.Â So…who do you like to replace him?
You can search all over the interwebs, and – with the exception of our favorite choice – you’ll see the same names everywhere.Â You’re far too busy getting ready for next Friday’s KCAL Kegger to waste your time the way we waste our time, so here’s a list of names with our lame comments.
Beware: there’s a pornstache on the other side of the jump.
The Surely You Can’t Be Serious Division
Rick Adelman. Uh, okay.Â Outside of the fact that he runs an offense similar to Phil’s Triangle, why is anybody talking about this guy?Â (That’s especially true given that the Busses want to junk the Triangle in favor of something more Showtimey.)
He’s a good coach, but seriously.Â He couldn’t get those good Sacramento teams over the hump a few years ago, and we haven’t the faintest idea how he ever got into this discussion, and we hope he exits it soon.Â Real soon.
A Van Gundy. It’s two, two, two mediocre coaches in one family!Â Which one do you like better?Â Jeff (the one who looks like one of the funniest- and freakiest-looking actors ever), or Stan (the one who bears way too much of a resemblance to Ron Jeremy)?
While Stan’s led two underpeforming teams in Florida, Jeff was a vaguely above average clipboard-holder in New York and Houston, though he starred as a prop in one of the funnier moments in playoff history.
If you absolutely had to pick, you’d have to take the guy with the pornstashe just for the yucks of it.
Coach K. You hear stuff for one reason: Kobe loves him.Â If the current one-and-done rule was in place when Kobe was 17, he’d have spent a year at Duke.Â Maybe he’d have been a good call a few years ago.Â Maybe.
Now?Â He’s 64 years old and a college basketball lifer, so you know how well he won’t be able to relate to the players whose initials aren’t Kobe Bryant.Â Also, he’s two wins behind Bobby Knight for the D-1 college basketball record.
He’s not going anywhere, and that’s a good thing.
The We Could Live With Him Division
Brian Shaw. He wrapped up his career as a valuable sub on the Shaq-Kobe threepeat teams.Â He’s been absorbing everything Zenmaster has to teach as an assistant, and by all accounts, he’s been strong on the bench.Â He’s young enough to relate to the players.
He seems like a good guy, but who knows?Â We’d rather know, thank you very much.
Byron Scott. Back in the Showtime days, on a team with three all-time superstars, B was our favorite Laker, the tough-as-nails local from Inglewood who was equal parts heart, brains and jumper.Â As a coach, he’s been the same hard-nosed, intense dude.
He took an undermanned Nets team to two straight NBA Finals, losing both times.Â He had a couple good years in New Orleans. In between, however, his teams have been awful enough to drag his overall coaching record under .500.Â Here’s the thing: after laid-back Phil, he’s either just the to whip up some intensity in Lakerland, or he’s going to have the whole roster hating him in no time.Â There’s also the matter of whether the crackpot owner in Cleveland, where he’s under contract, would let him go, but who’s counting?
Larry Brown. Here’s an interesting rumor.Â Dude’s only had 13 head coaching gigs so far – 9 NBA, 2 ABA and 2 NCAA.Â He’s the ultimate quick fix guy.Â His teams tend to get better real fast.Â Hell, he even led the Clippers to the playoff the only two years he coached them!Â Then, everything implodes in a couple years.
Considering how little time this group of Lakers has left, he just might be the best call of all.Â Remember, he finally grabbed an NBA title seven years ago in Detroit.Â If you don’t remember who the Pistons beat in the Finals, so much the better.
The Guys We’d Swoon For Division
Jerry Sloan. We have no idea if he’d be willing to do it – he’s almost 70 now and a couple months into retirement.Â And yes, we don’t think Coach K can relate to pro ballplayers young enough to be his grandkids.Â Coach Sloan, however, spent 22 years in the same place and was the model of consistency, class, and performance.Â If he never got his team over the final hurdle and into the Finals winner’s circle, he did a helluva job over and over and over, and never lost his players.Â Ever.
He wouldn’t do the job for long, but this Lakers outfit has, at the absolute most, a three-year shelf life.Â No one on the roster wouldn’t respect the hell out of him.Â It sounds weird, but reeling in Jerry Sloan would be a great move.
Doc Rivers. Let’s get this straight: Doc Rivers is not a Celtic.Â He’s not.Â He’s not.Â He’s not.Â He spent his best playing days as – Good Lord – an Atlanta Hawk.Â Far more importantly, he’s a tremendous coach.Â In his own way, he’s the new Zenmaster.Â He took a talented basketball team (that we hate with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns) and quickly melded them into World Champions.
He’s not happy in Boston and had to be talked into coming back this year.Â With the Celtics’ flame job also now complete, he’s gone, gone, gone.Â The only question is whether he really wants to spend more time with his family, or whether he’d come to L.A. for a chance at another ring or two.
If he wants to come, you grab him and don’t let go.
Derek Fisher. Yes, D-Fish has no coaching experience at all, and yes, we ran down B-Shaw for his lack of head coaching experience, but there’s a reason Fish ends his playing season and immediately puts on the coat and tie and goes to work as the president of the player’s union.
Coming from a franchise where an amazing number of former players have done remarkable things after they retired – go look up the post-playing endeavors of Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Magic Johnson for starters – and on a team where one All-Star speaks multiple languages and the other is a former medical student, Fish still stands out.Â Yes, getting Pau made them champions, but don’t tell us that Fish’s leadership wasn’t a huge part of that.
He knows this team as well as anyone.Â Do you have any doubts he can handle the basketball side of things?Â He can obviously relate to the players better than anyone else you can name.Â He wants to keep playing?Â Fine – he’s a player-coach with B-Shaw running the bench when he’s in the game.
Assuming he wants to, dude is going to have a very long, very successful head coaching career in the NBA.Â Why not get it started right now?
Well, either that, or someone could have the boss’s daughter call Phil and tell him he’ll never see this again if he doesn’t unretire pronto.