Well, I guess Pau Gasol had a non-refundable deposit on a timeshare in Sedona or something, because the Lakers did everything short of taking a cigarette break on the court yesterday en route to handing the Dallas Mavericks a 122-86 victory and ending their hopes of a third consecutive title. In the interest of journalistic integrity (and also some good, old-fashioned gloating), this is the part where I point out that I'm a Boston Celtics fan, and therefore delighted by this turn of events. But unless Kobe did something really bad last night, the real story, that fans of any team should consider newsworthy, is the impending retirement of one of the greatest coaches in basketball history. That's right, Phil Jackson, the Zen Master, is calling it quits after coaching his teams to 11 NBA titles. How can a man like that possibly be replaced? We're so glad you asked.
Replacement Candidate: Kurt Rambis
Had Phil walked away a little earlier, the Lakers head coaching gig might already belong to Rambo, who spent 7 years as a Lakers assistant. Unfortunately, he jumped ship at the end of 2009 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. But don't worry, under his leadership, the T'Wolves have the worst record in the league over the last two years, so it's not like he has a whole ton of job security! As much as Lakers fans aren't going to want to admit this to themselves, this is about to be what is euphemistically referred to as a "transition period" for the Lake Show. In other words, you're about to lose a few more games than you're used to. Why not bring in a coach who's already familiar with that process?
Besides, saying goodbye to Phil's whole "creepy single old guy who lives in Marina Del Rey" soul patch will be a lot easier if we can get Kurt to regrow the "creepy 1987 elementary school crossing guard" mullet-and-mustache ensemble he's rocking in the photo above.
Replacement Candidate: The Dalai Lama
Phil often gets a lot of credit for his "holistic" or "mystical" approach to coaching, which apparently is a blend of Eastern spirituality, humanistic philosophy, and having up to 3 of the top 25 players of all time on his roster at any given time. So who better to succeed him in L.A. than the person widely considered to be the most spiritual man alive? Sure, he doesn't know much about basketball, but that's what assistant coaches are for, right? The guy in charge needs to lead by example, and judging from their cheap-shot ejections last night, both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum could use a lesson or two in grace and/or dignity.
The only thing is, I'm just not sure how His Holiness is going to take to the Tinseltown atmosphere. His planned visit last week was shortened significantly, and while that was attributed to illness, it's also possible that they had him staying at the Chateau Marmont and he got tired of being woken up by 4am Disney Channel starlet coke parties. Or maybe he was partying too hard, and it was everyone else calling the front desk. You never know with this guy.
Replacement Candidate: Will Smith
If we learned anything from Charlie Sheen's public meltdown, it's that in Hollywood, they don't replace you—they recast you. And in that spirit, maybe we should be thinking less about what a new coach would mean for the Lakers, and more about who would look ideal holding that clipboard courtside. What about megasuperduperstar and noted Lakers fan Will Smith? He's charming, he's animated, and he's fought space aliens, which should give him a chance of dealing with Kobe's ego. He can even bring other notable celebrity Lakers fans Jack Nicholson and Charlie Sheen on board. Just keep Charlie away from the team doctor, who's really not supposed to prescribe horse tranquilizers to people, so please stop asking, Charlie.
Godspeed, Phil. Go enjoy your beach walk. Your team is in good hands.