Jackson Shows Up at Practice

Times Staff Writer

Coach Phil Jackson stopped by Lakers practice Monday morning, accepted handshakes from his players, and launched right into a lecture on an element of the triangle offense -- with discussions of feel-good reunions and hip-replacement surgery left for another time.

Jackson was more than a passive participant in returning to a part-time role less than a week after last Tuesday’s procedure. He is still up to three weeks from returning full time and will not join the team tonight in Fresno for its first exhibition against Utah, but he sat in on the coaches’ meeting and then watched more than two hours of Monday’s practice.

He also watched Sunday night’s two-hour scrimmage that was closed to the media.


“You can see that he’s getting better and he’s feeling better,” assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. “He was sprier [Monday] and barking out commands to the guys. You can tell the itch is there and he’s eager to get back.

“One of the elements of the offense that I’ve been holding on to because I didn’t feel like the team was ready for it, he shoved it right down their throats this morning, so he got them going on that part of the offense.”

Said forward Lamar Odom: “He’s our leader. I just want to see him well. That’s first. Captain Kurt has done a great job. It’s a learning week. We have so many people to learn from.”

Jackson, walking with the assistance of a cane, did not stay around to talk to the media.

“That just shows you his thought processes are very clear too,” Rambis said jokingly.


Jackson said last week that he hoped Kobe Bryant would be back in a week or two. There’s one more week before it gets to that point.

Rambis suggested he wasn’t a magical healer when asked if Bryant and Chris Mihm would return soon.

“The last miracle I performed was getting my wife to marry me,” Rambis said. “Kobe’s been out going through dry runs with no defense or anything like that and he looks good, but when he’s coming back, I have no idea.”

It’s not great news for Lakers fans, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing for the rest of the team.

“We’ll turn that into a positive instead of a negative, that other guys will learn to run the offense without Kobe,” Rambis said. “So many times last year in ballgames, guys would throw Kobe the ball and then they would stop going through with their cuts and they’d just stand around and watch him.”

Said Odom: “Kobe’s so good that you can’t help, especially when it’s your first time playing with him, to pass him the ball and move out of his way.”


With Mihm still recovering from off-season ankle surgery, Andrew Bynum is expected to get more playing time in the exhibition season.

There have been some subtle improvements in his game, but he is still only 18.

“He even showed some things in scrimmage [Monday],” Rambis said. “He used his left hand on a move and that was something that we’ve all been begging him to do. He used his left hand for the first time in practice and he’s been here for a year already, so that lets you know how slow the process is. He’s done some good things in practice and he’s just got to continue to develop them.

“We would love for him to go out there and play great and get as much time as possible. That would be good for him and good for us, but realistically he’s probably going to fail more than he’s going to succeed when he gets playing time out there.”