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Phil Jackson: LeBron James travels half the time he catches the ball

LeBron James, Jose Calderon

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, left, fouls New York Knicks’ Jose Calderon during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in New York. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 101-83. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


Get off Phil Jackson’s lawn.

The 69-year-old Knicks president thinks basketball has lost its way, and he cited LeBron James when outlining the problems.

Phil Jackson, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“I watch LeBron James, for example,” he said. “He might [travel] every other time he catches the basketball if he’s off the ball. He catches the ball, moves both his feet. You see it happen all the time. There’s no structure, there’s no discipline, there’s no ‘How do we play this game’ type of attitude. And it goes all the way through the game. To the point where now guys don’t screen—they push guys off with their hands.”

He concluded: “It struck me: How can we get so far away from the real truth of what we’re trying to do? And if you give people structure, just like a jazz musician—he’s gotta learn melody, and he’s gotta learn the basic parts of music—and then he can learn how to improvise. And that’s basically what team play is all about.”

The agitation in Jackson’s voice is evident.

“The game actually has some beauty to it, and we’ve kind of taken some of that out of it to make it individualized,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot of who we are as a country, individualized stuff.”

Indeed, Jackson seems much less concerned with validating the triangle than with the state of the game itself.

“When I watch some of these playoff games, and I look at what’s being run out there, as what people call an offense, it’s really quite remarkable to see how far our game has fallen from a team game,” Jackson said. “Four guys stand around watching one guy dribble a basketball.”

Kids these days – ruining America with their individualized offenses. Or is it the other way around?

Anyway, Jackson comes across like a grumpy old man, far too obsessed with how they did it in his day rather than what actually works now.

There was no better example of an individualized offense than the playoff Cavaliers, who funneled everything though LeBron. And they scored more points per 100 possessions with LeBron on the floor (104.2) than the regular-season Knicks (97.1). Even in the Finals – with LeBron intentionally bogging down the offense to slow the game and against the Warriors’ NBA-best defense – Cleveland still scored more with LeBron on the floor (97.3) than the regular-season Knicks.

Maybe the script flips once (if?) Phil Jackson acquires better players. But Jackson’s attitude doesn’t give me much confidence. Even if he’s no longer framing his complaints around the triangle offense, he seems too obsessed about the wrong things

I’ll take effective over aesthetically pleasing.