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NBA coaches don’t need a stern lecture

From Oklahoma City

It was noisy, and that was 25 minutes before tipoff, everyone standing and cheering on the Thunder while it warmed up.

Could the kids beat the arrogant, tradition-rich champions, the story lines in abundance, as good a setting as anyone would want for a night of entertainment.

Meanwhile, down in the bowels of the Ford Center, NBA Commissioner David Stern assumed the role of punk, diverting attention from the playoffs and back to himself.

If anyone should be fined for conduct detrimental to the league it’s Stern who actually suggested my good buddy Phil, who has spent a lifetime in basketball, doesn’t “respect” the game.

A simple Page 2 response with no concern about being fined: Balderdash.

“The game is too important and I don’t think that the people that are trashing it are respecting it,” Stern told the media.

More than anything, it’s a game that doesn’t always respect the job Phil has done -- the coach with the most championship trophies being named coach of the year only once.

OK, so what Phil says doesn’t always make sense, is obviously done to get an edge or maybe tweak someone -- he can’t help himself when given the chance to tweak someone. I know.

But he’s hasn’t gone as far as Khloe Odom yet, who tweeted during Game 3: “We should change the Refs names to ‘Cheaters.’ That will be more accurate.”

If Stern thinks he’s so tough -- our Mike Bresnahan likened him to Clint Eastwood -- let’s see him go on the Kardashians’ TV show.

Now we haven’t had a good heavyweight fight in years, this one just made for Don King, blowing smoke about Stern, and Bob Arum sniping in favor of Phil.

Stern has been fighting for years, of course, trying to prove the referees in his league are blind to personal biases, are not swayed by this or that and no way would they ever throw a game.

Then he took it on the chin when it became known Joey Crawford had it in for Tim Duncan and then one of his refs was caught betting on games, which resulted in prison time.

Jackson, meanwhile, excels like no one else to ever coach this game in this league, and they tell me it’s the only reason they play these games.

I’d argue the games are played for entertainment, and Jackson excels there as well, chipping away at his own players, the media, opposing cities and yes, the referees.

I gave him a chance to weigh in on the commissioner after the Lakers’ loss, but he said he needed time to reflect.

But come on, gamesmanship has always been a part of Phil’s repertoire, as much as Red Auerbach’s lighting up a cigar on the bench, so why would the commissioner of the league go out of his way to take him on moments before a playoff game?

What’s wrong with rebuilding the game’s image in the off-season?

“Our coaches should be quiet because this is a good business,” Stern says, and funny, because too often Phil is getting criticized for just sitting there.

Now here’s where it becomes more ultimate fighting than boxing -- Stern saying if coaches don’t like what he has to say, “They should go get a job someplace else.”

That’s how a punk talks, falling back on the lead in his gloves because he is commissioner, overreacting again as he did a week ago when he hit Jackson with a $35,000 fine for suggesting Kevin Durant gets favorable calls.

The best player on every team gets favorable calls, and what’s so outrageous for saying so?

The problem, of course, is that Stern feels the burning need to defend his referees, who too often are horrible -- 18,000 witnesses on many occasions.

Ron Artest has mugged Durant in this series, wrapping him up like a safety, stopping short of actually tackling him.

In most cases, no call has been made, and if the credit goes to Jackson for limiting the number of times the whistle has been blown, it seems he’s finally earning his money. Sorry, I remember a time when I went after Jackson with regularity and now I’m defending him.

I’d hate to think when this season is over it’s the commissioner of basketball who runs off Jackson as coach of the Lakers.

That’s the Thunder’s job.

TNT’S Craig Sager did a bit on TV about the Skirvin Hilton, the haunted hotel where the Lakers are staying.

As the story goes the hotel owner got a maid pregnant, locked her and the baby in a room atop the hotel to avoid scandal, and she jumped with the baby in her arms.

Ever since guests have reported seeing the woman, one male guest, according to hauntedhouse.com, reporting he woke with this amorous female entity in his bed.

I’m told this guest was not Tiger Woods.

t.j.simers@latimes.com


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