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Jackson’s remark earns rebuke

Times Staff Writer

HOUSTON

-- Coach Phil Jackson was reprimanded by the NBA, but not fined, and criticized by a national gay and lesbian group because of an off-color remark he made Tuesday night after the Lakers lost to San Antonio.

Jackson was trying to explain how the Lakers’ defense kept allowing Spurs players to penetrate the lane and kick the ball out to teammates on the perimeter for open shots. The Spurs made an exemplary 13 of 27 shots from three-point range in their 107-92 victory.

“We call this a ‘Brokeback Mountain’ game because there’s so much penetration and kick-outs,” Jackson said. “It was one of those games.”

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The Oscar-winning movie portrayed two cowboys who hid a homosexual affair.

“The remarks are in poor taste, and the Lakers have assured us such remarks will not occur in the future,” NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said.

Jackson also drew a rebuke in a statement issued by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

“Phil Jackson’s been coaching long enough that he should be able to talk about the Lakers’ performance without resorting to cheap gay jokes,” the group said in the statement.

Jackson apologized, in his own way.

“It’s poor humor,” Jackson said. “I deserve to be reprimanded by the NBA. If I’ve offended any horses, Texans, cowboys or gays, I apologize.”

Jackson then suggested he would be more careful in the future.

“It’s societal,” he said. “Right now, we have to understand that as coaches and people who speak in public, that some people can do it and some people can’t. Coaches can’t do it. Jay Leno and Dave Letterman can. That’s something that is appropriate for certain categories.”

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Jackson avoided a fine after enduring several from the NBA in the past.

He was docked $25,000 last November for criticizing referees after the Lakers lost a frenetic game in Utah. Jackson said a day after the game that the league “throws out some referee corps that you’re dubious about to start with and, you know, the game ends up like that.”

Jackson was also fined $25,000 in December 2005 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule by saying Toronto Raptors center-forward Chris Bosh would be a good free-agent prize.

He was hit with a $50,000 fine in March 2004 for saying referee Bob Delaney was “prejudiced against Shaq [O’Neal]” after the former Lakers center was ejected for two hard fouls late in an 88-83 loss.

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Of the Lakers’ highlights in the first half against Houston, perhaps most memorable was Kobe Bryant climbing high to block a shot by 7-foot-6 Houston center Yao Ming.

“Kobe Mutombo,” Bryant said, smiling, a reference to expert shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo, Houston’s back-up center.

It was Kwame Brown’s turn to start at center, ending Chris Mihm’s three-game run.

Brown had only two points but helped bother Yao into a six-for-18 shooting night. Yao made 14 of 20 free throws and finished with 26 points.

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Guard Sasha Vujacic was on the inactive list for a second consecutive game. Rookie guards Javaris Crittenton and Coby Karl were also inactive against Houston.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com


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