Jackson knows to play it cool

Times Staff Writer

Phil Jackson watched his team lose the first two games of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, but columnist Peter Vecsey of the New York Post does not expect the Lakers coach to panic.

The “nonconformity” that characterizes Jackson and helps him win held him back early in his coaching career, according to Vecsey.

“If not for an invitation from GM Jerry Krause to join Doug Collins’ Bulls staff in 1987, he might still be coaching in the minors while living [and getting stoned] in Woodstock,” Vecsey wrote.

“Instead, Jackson is the Zen Hen and has been the NBA’s highest-paid camp counselor -- currently $10 million with a $2M bump on tap for the duration of his Lakers’ extension -- since his second trio of title triumphs with the Bulls.

“Instead, Jackson is the league’s supreme Sherpa as a result of nine [head] trips to the top of the mount, a total that ties him with Red Auerbach, an ancient mortal enemy Dr. Phil would love to leave in the [cigar] smoke at the expense of Red on Roundball’s Celtics.”


Trivia time

Who are the only major league players in the last 30 years who have spent at least 10 years with two different teams?

Scottish Spygate

Scott Gibson, a Scottish pigeon-racing champ, quit the sport after critics suspicious of his success apparently hid in bushes to investigate claims that he cheated.

According to the Daily Record, spies gathered alleged evidence over four weekends and took it to the sport’s governing body, which found no reason to take action.

Gibson, who denied the cheating claims, gave up anyway.

“It’s meant to be a hobby, but it is not enjoyable when it gets to this stage,” he said.

Just ask Roger Goodell.

Fin spin

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President Bush, addressed the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and gave tips about dealing with the media.

Fleischer spoke to NFL head coaches in April and Dolphins assistants last month, according to columnist Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post.

Fleischer said he became a Dolphins fan while growing up in New York because he loved the “Flipper” TV show.

“I split with my family twice,” Fleischer told Stoda. “I cheer for the Dolphins instead of the Jets and Giants, and I became a Republican.”

Fleischer said one of his most difficult days in the White House was connected to the Dolphins when President Bush choked on a pretzel while watching the Dolphins lose a 2002 playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens.

“It ruined what was going to be a relaxing afternoon off,” Fleischer said, “and then the outcome of the game wasn’t any good.”

Fighting words

During a PGA conference call on the day of a Stanley Cup finals game, Tiger Woods was asked, “Detroit or Pittsburgh tonight?”

After a brief exchange, Woods quipped, “I don’t think anybody really watches hockey anymore.”

Many hockey fans were ready to drop the gloves in anger, including Mike Milbury, a former NHL player, coach and general manager, who recently fired back on Canadian television.

“You know what? I’m going to change the name now,” Milbury said. “It’s gonna be Tiger Wuss. Here’s a guy that took about three months to get over a simple arthroscopic surgery. You look at [Pittsburgh forward] Ryan Malone. His face exploded with a slap shot last night -- he’s back out in 10 minutes!

“Keep your yap shut, Tiger, or I’ll send a couple of wingers down there -- [Penguins forward] Gary Roberts -- to tidy you up a little bit, meathead.”

Trivia answer

Charlie Hough, who pitched for the Dodgers from 1970-80 and the Texas Rangers from 1980-90, and Carlton Fisk, who played for the Boston Red Sox in 1969 and from 1971-80 and the Chicago White Sox from 1981-93.

And finally

Before crowning Chicago “the new and undisputed leader in the sports city clubhouse,” on the basis of being “more compelling, more exciting, more screwed-up,” than any other sports town, Gene Wojciechowski of detailed why other cities fell short.

“Los Angeles?” Wojciechowski wrote. “Talk to us when you get an NFL franchise. Until then, you’re Sacramento with traffic, Kobe and the Reggie Bush investigation.”