Red Auerbach may be a legend, but does that doesn't entitle him to act like a jerk. Auerbach continued his harsh criticism of Phil Jackson Wednesday, saying that Jackson "picks his spots" by taking "can't-fail assignments."
This is an oft-heard criticism of Jackson, and few have said it more loudly than Auerbach, who desperately wants to hold onto his tie with Jackson for winning nine NBA championships as a coach.
Obviously, Jackson would have been nowhere without Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant. But where would Auerbach have been without Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Sharman and the 11 total Hall-of-Famers he coached?
Auerbach didn't stop there, also firing shots at Larry Brown.
"Phil Jackson, they've got a pretty good ballclub out there, but he's got his built-in excuse," Auerbach said. "You could have taken, I won't say anybody, but you can take any knowledgeable coach and put them in those situations and they can't do any worse. If L.A. doesn't make the playoffs, it's 'building.' If New York doesn't make the playoffs, 'We're building,' you know?"
Yes, Red. The Lakers are rebuilding. The question is not how well the Lakers will do now, but how well they will do in a few years, once they are built. It took Red Auerbach six years in Boston before he won his first NBA title in 1957, which coincidentally was Bill Russell's rookie year.
Was Red Auerbach "building" the Celtics from 1950-56? Was he building he coached the NBA's Tri-City Blackhawks to a 28-29 record in the 1949-50 season? Why couldn't Red Auerbach do better than 2 division titles when he coach the Washington Capitals of the old BAA for 3 years? Obviously Red Auerbach is overrated, just like Phil Jackson.
In reality, both Jackson and Auerbach are among the game's greatest coaches. Jackson may have been fortunate to have talent, but I don't think many other coaches could have won with both Shaq and Kobe and their personalities on the same team. Remember how lost the Lakers were before Phil Jackson? And remember how the Bulls consistently came up short before Phil Jackson? Michael Jordan hasn't won a title with any other coach. Jackson is a great coach, who makes great players the best they can be.
Red Auerbach didn't have to deal with the egoes, big contracts, and franchise turnover that marks today's sports world, but he was the perfect fit for the Celtics of 1950s and 1960s. It's pathetic that he feels threatened by Jackson, and feels the need to demean him.
Auerbach also said he was disappointed that neither Jackson, nor Brown, sent him get-well cards after a recent hospital visit. Jackson claims he sent flowers, but that there was a mixup with the hospital's address, which prevented them from arriving on time. Why would Auerbach honestly expect flowers from a man whom he has repeatedly dissed? Get over yourself, Red. Show some class. We always thought you had some in you.