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LAKER NOTES

Is Auerbach Blowing Smoke?

June 01, 2002|Tim Brown and Bill Plaschke

Red Auerbach has made a second career of minimizing Phil Jackson's coaching achievements, his criticism becoming more vocal the closer Jackson gets to another title.

Auerbach won nine NBA championships as coach of the Boston Celtics from 1957 to 1966. Jackson has eight, which annoys Auerbach to no end.

Jackson shrugged on Friday when told of yet another volley from Auerbach, and said he would get satisfaction from catching and passing Auerbach for the thrill it would give his mentor, Red Holzman.

"Well, I know Red [Auerbach]," Jackson said. "If you know Red, you know why I'm looking forward to besting his record. I'm doing it in lieu of Red Holzman's death. I'm sure it's a wish he'd have to see me replace [Auerbach]."

Auerbach's contention is Jackson chased the talent--Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles--whereas Auerbach built and maintained the Celtics.

"It was an eight-team league back then," Jackson said. "It was pretty obvious it was a different game entirely."

That being said, Jackson added that Auerbach did "a terrific job as a coach," but that his postgame celebrations irked anyone outside of Boston, Holzman among them.

"Lighting a cigar at the ends of games and blowing smoke at the ends of games, he irritated a lot of people," Jackson said.

He stopped and chuckled. "And still is capable of doing that," he said.

*

Jackson finally said what much of Los Angeles had been thinking this week.

It was about that play at the end of Game 5, Chris Webber either losing the ball out of bounds, or watching as it was knocked out of bounds by Robert Horry.

It became a critical play when the ball was given to the Kings, because Mike Bibby made a jump shot on the inbounds play to give the Kings the victory.

Replays of the loose ball were inconclusive. Yet on Friday, Jackson said clearly that Webber had knocked it out of bounds and that the officials had missed the call.

"The judgment of Jack Nies to give the ball back to Sacramento when Webber knocked it out of bounds, that's his call ... there's no use [complaining], you have to accept that, rise above that," Jackson said.

*

The road team has won 13 Game 7s in NBA history. The last were the New York Knicks at Miami in the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals.... Tickets to watch Game 7 Sunday on the scoreboard at Staples Center will go on sale at 10 a.m. today at the arena and at Ticketmaster outlets.

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