The only way for the Lakers to win a title this season – or any season, for that matter – is to be dominant on the defensive end of the ball. They learned this lesson the hard way, and in humiliating fashion last June. So, they got defensive.
They also stole a chapter out of Boston’s book by appointing their own defensive guru: Kurt Rambis.
From the LA Times:
Rambis, in his seventh season as a Lakers assistant coach, had been in Jackson’s ear for a while, pointing out an opportunity to take advantage of the NBA rule changes in 2001 that allowed zone defenses. Jackson ultimately relented over the summer.
“Kurt’s been pestering me for a year or so about doing some things defensively that I was reluctant to do,” Jackson said. “I come from the old school where you play man [defense], and you have that man and that’s your primary goal.”
“We didn’t want to announce it and make a big deal about it like Boston did with their guy,” Jackson said. “But Kurt is real good at this and he’s willing.”
The slight dig at the folks in Beantown was a nice touch, Phillip.
While I’m admittedly thrilled to see the Lakers playing tougher defense this season, it remains to be seen just how committed they are to it long-term. You can draw up all of the fancy x’s and o’s that you want, but ultimately, and to borrow from an old cliché, defense is all about desire.