Nov 152005
Authors: Brett Okamoto

First off I apologize for Tanner's column this week. He's our photo editor he doesn't know any better. In the spirit of the holiday season let's keep the hate mail to a minimum…(

Phil Jackson is the most underrated coach in the NBA. There I said it. While 99.9 percent of you would say he's overrated, I'm saying the guy needs to be on more magazine covers, get paid more money and write more novels.

As the Los Angeles Lakers play the New York Knicks tonight, the enticing question circling these two mediocre teams focuses on their coaches. Who would you want on your bench – Phil or Larry?

For me the answer is simple. Who other than a coach with nine championship rings and the best winning record in NBA history would you want on your bench?

Yes, Jackson had the advantage of having names like Michael, Scottie, Kobe and Shaq play for him. But instead of making the case of how they made him great, maybe you should consider it the other way.

Michael Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls in 1984. Phil Jackson joined in 1989. Bulls won the championship in 1990. The Jackson-less Jordan's win percentage over five years was .500 even. With Jackson, Jordan posted a .747 win percentage.

Kobe and Shaq formed their love-hate relationship in 1996. In the three years without Jackson, they never even made it to the NBA Finals. Jackson joined the team in 1999, and they won the next three. You starting to see the pattern?

Now, about Larry Brown.

The biggest question on Brown's mind every night is not what offense to run, but what team to stiff next. Last year he erased any chance of the Pistons beating the Spurs in the NBA Finals when he started shopping for a new team while the team he was supposed to be coaching was in the middle of their postseason. How can you play for a guy who sticks around as a long as a good idea in Boulder?

For all you people who would make the argument that Jackson couldn't do enough with his Hall of Fame cast in L.A., what about the egg Brown laid last summer? The 5-3 record at the Olympics is like that weight-loss commercial with Anna Nicole Smith – it never should have happened.

The most convincing piece of evidence that Brown is not an elite coach sat next to him the last two years on the Detroit Pistons' bench.

Darko Milic was the hyped of the hyped the same year LeBron and Carmelo entered the draft. As ridiculous as it was, some teams considered him to be the number one pick over "The King" himself. To take that much potential and talent, and do absolutely nothing with it, makes it hard for me to praise Brown. Phil on the other hand is great at getting the most out of young players, (see Smush Parker, Kareem Rush, Luke Walton, etc.)

Jackson is a better coach than Brown, period. The only thing that worries me is all the time he spent with Shaq. I got to believe you get a little dumber after that.

Brett Okamoto is the Collegian's sports editor.

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