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Phil headed back to the Lakers?


THIS soap opera has been written. The characters are already in place. Crank up the late night updates and a publicity machine to feed the morning papers and we’re in business.

Being born into a soap opera is not strange for the Los Angeles Lakers. In a town where no one seems to get enough of who said to whom, and who did what to whom, the team’s firing of its head coach guarantees interest every night.

With coach Mike Brown and his grand experiment called the hybrid Princeton offense out of LALA land and the NBA, a fresh plot line has developed. A new character, an old member of the cast could be waiting for his reintroduction.

The soap opera director, aka general manager Mitch Kupchak, has hinted that with Brown’s firing, ex-mentor Phil Jackson and his vaunted triangle offense could return to the team.

Never mind that Brown’s firing was the earliest exit for a coach in Lakers history since Del Harris was fired 12 games into the 1999 season.

Never mind that Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and company, who looked like chickens running around with their heads cut off with Brown’s new court maneuver, have lost four of their five games. As I write this, they are 1-12 if the team’s winless exhibition season is taken into account.

What seems to matter for Mr. Kupchak is that the team is well aware that its former coach is available.

Kupchak was blunt after Brown’s recent dismissal. Said Kupchak to the Los Angeles Times: “When there’s a coach like Phil Jackson—one of the all-time greats—and he’s not coaching, I think we’d be negligent not to be aware that he’s out there.”

The team GM said his front office staff is “putting together a list and an attack plan. We haven’t reached out to anyone at this time.”

But when ranged against the field of candidates that include Mike D’Antoni, Jerry Sloan, Nate McMillan and Brian Shaw—Jackson the old Zen master appears to have the upper hand.

Whether he decides to leave his spread on the Montana range for the bright lights of LA again would be another twist to the Lakers soap opera.

* * *

You can go home again, Thomas Wolfe notwithstanding, especially if your place is on a slice of earth that is a bastion of community and calm.

We are back to our place on the Ilocos Sur coast we have fondly christened Della del Mar.

The waters of the South China Sea in our quarter of the world remain unspoiled, the panorama of life unchanged.

Fishermen are up and about, riding bamboo rafts to snag fish with nets, with the fortunate ones cutting across the waters in blue and yellow motorized canoes called bilog and headed to more fertile fishing spots a few miles out to sea.

I look forward to bantering at first light again with the womenfolk waiting with nervous anticipation while the rafts and boats return to shore. A night of fishing could be a boom or bust for their husbands, but their spirits will be undeterred as life goes on in a wondrous place.

Tamurong I, Candon City, Ilocos Sur, we are home for the long haul. Thank you for the warm embrace of welcome and friendship.

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Tags: Basketball , LA Lakers , Mike Brown , Mitch Kupchak , NBA , Phil Jackson

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