Steve Nash & Phil Jackson Already Battling

by Ben Osborne

The Western Conference Finals don’t kick off until Monday night (why does that series featuring two teams that haven’t played in a week start after the EC series featuring a Celtic team that just finished playing? I have no idea.), but two of the lead characters in what promises to be a drama-filled series are already tweaking one another.

It started Friday, when Jackson told the media it was hard to practice as if you’re facing Nash because “you can’t carry the ball like he does.”

As Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reports, Nash had a good comeback today:

You might say that Phil Jackson is in Steve Nash’s head now, or you might say that Nash’s cleverness comes across in words as well as on the court.

In any case, Nash had a fun retort to Jackson’s comment Friday about Nash illegally carrying the ball. Said Nash on Saturday: “The best coach in the league, Gregg Popovich, didn’t have a problem with it last week.”

Jackson’s Lakers are in the Western Conference finals and Popovich’s Spurs aren’t. When told of Nash’s comment, Jackson said: “I didn’t complain about it. Did you hear me complain about it?”

Jackson also laughed as he reminded that Popovich called Nash “the head of the snake” and had strategized about how “you had to eliminate the head of the snake.” But Jackson added: “Pop’s a great coach, no doubt.”

By the often-boring standards of post-practice quotes in the NBA, this little back-and-forth is pretty amusing, but we’ll be more excited when there is some new action on the court.