I watched Phil Jackson mosey off the court Sunday after getting a firm handshake from Rick Carlisle. He looked old, thick around the middle and exhausted. Even my father in-law, who is in his 70s, couldn't help but comment about how the Zen Master had aged. Midway through the fourth quarter of that blowout loss, at the end of a sweep that would in all likelihood cap his career, Jackson smiled at the absurdity of how things had unraveled.
And yet, one man's demise is another's birth. (Honestly, that's probably some fantastical, medieval sounding saying I heard a "Game of Thrones" character utter before chopping someone's head off. Winter is coming!) The Los Angeles Lakers, despite their disintegration in the span of four games, still have one of the most plum coaching jobs in all of sports, not just the NBA. Name another team, college or pro, that carries the same dose of glamour, the same history, the same talent (even if it is in need of a lift). The New York Yankees are the only other franchise, to me, that compares.
Naturally, before Jackson had shuffled off the American Airlines Center floor, people started looking to the man behind him, Brian Shaw. The longtime assistant and former player is everyone's odds-on choice to rebuild around Kobe Bryant. In fact, by Monday morning, I was already getting emails from bookmakers about the numbers they were going to post in the Lakers' coaching horse race.