Access rule wears thin with Jackson

Times Staff Writer

In an attempt to bring fans closer to the game, the NBA has decided to start attaching microphones to coaches during some nationally televised games.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is ecstatic about the development.

“Oh puh-leez, don’t talk about this. I’m going to stick my foot right in it,” he said.

How so?

“I wasn’t at the league meeting with the coaches this year and I’m very disappointed in my comrades for rolling over on this so easily. But I know that [Commissioner] David Stern must have had a lot of input in it and must have been very adamant about our [television] partnership. It’s going to be real hard on us coaches. We do things in a private zone.

“For people to be in the inner sanctum, where emotions are high and things are happening, it is threatening to us. We’re going to have to get over it at some level. It’s ‘Big Brother,’ though. It’s very ‘Big Brother’-ish. Those things are difficult to absorb.”


The league plans to attach microphones to coaches for use before games, during games and at halftime. There will be embedded cameras in locker rooms to accent TV coverage. The networks are not allowed to use live audio or video, and certain standards of decorum will be followed.

“I grew up in a church and I had to watch my language and my carriage and a lot of things at times, so I’ll be able to behave OK, kind of,” Jackson said. “But it still feels like you’re in an altered atmosphere.”

Coaches must accede to the demands of the league and the networks, but players can decline if they are asked to wear a microphone.

The players, unlike the coaches, have a union, as Jackson pointed out.

In fact, the miked-up concept was summarily dismissed when brought up at a players’ union meeting, said Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the union president.

“As an athlete, it’s just not part of your soul,” Fisher said. “It’s just not a part of who you were growing up, for everything that you did as part of your preparation for games, or during competition, to be public consumption.”

Jackson, as part of his wry sense of humor, will probably find a way to tweak the system when asked to wear a microphone.


“We’ll use it to our advantage,” he said invitingly on Wednesday. “We’ll talk about what a gentle person somebody is, and what a wonderful individual they are to play against on the court, how kind you have to be when you run into a screen, and be sure you help a guy up when he falls on the floor, things like that.”

Oh, that’s swell.

“Promote good citizenship,” Jackson said, smiling.