Phil Jackson vs Mike D'Antoni

NBA Analysis: What The Phil Jackson Situation Tells Us About the “Information Age” Fans

In the past few days, the biggest news to come out of NBA news feeds has been speculation of Phil Jackson’s return to the Los Angeles Lakers’ helm. As it turned out, the multi-titled coached asked for the moon, forcing the Lakers to “settle” for Mike D’Antoni. The news adds perspective as to how Steve Nash can be fully utilized to run pick-and-rolls with Dwight Howard, the same way he found success with Amare Stoudemire in Phoenix.

Even fans of other teams were made aware of these developments, whether they like it or not. You don’t really have much of a choice if every news outlet is rife with updates on the same topic. Never mind that the Memphis Grizzlies are surprising the league with impressive wins against top teams, including the Miami Heat. Never mind that the Charlotte Bobcats already have two wins this early in the season. You may say that it’s the flamboyant Lakers with its star-studded team, but the interest can actually be traced to the changing mindset of casual NBA fans.

A decade ago, fans couldn’t care less about coaching decisions and issues surrounding them. It was all about superstars like Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley. No one knew about the coaching strategies of Mike Dunleavy or the defensive patterns of Chuck Daly.

The Internet changed all that.

Nowadays, various resources are available on the web regarding coaching styles, including run-downs of offensive plays on video or text form. Fans today are more immersed than ever. They understand Mike Brown’s weakness in utilizing the offensive skills of his players, but they acknowledge his penchant to churn out defensive strategies. The same thing runs parallel to what happened a year ago, when D’Antoni struggled to keep his position as the New York Knicks’ coach.

It’s not every day you hear fans chanting the name of a coach the same way Lakers fans shouted “We want Phil!” in unison when Kobe Bryant was shooting a free throw. Fans have become smarter. They know more and therefore expect more.

This might just be the start of a new era of NBA basketball where superstars are held in the same vein as the coaches or even the team as a whole.

Image credit: Lakerholicz, www.cbc.ca

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