NBA finals have nothing on this prodigal shot |

NBA finals have nothing on this prodigal shot

Don Rogers

I think he’s nuts, but if Phil Jackson is coming back, so am I. I’m nuts, too, I guess. But a life with the Los Angeles Lakers in my blood is an infection that is awfully hard to get rid of. Kobe Bryant or, preferably, no Kobe Bryant.

It’s a shame Bryant wasn’t the one shipped off to Miami last year, ideally in exchange for Dwayne Wade. But that would have been too much to hope for. Shaq, Jackson and a talented perimeter player with his head on straight. And I’m talking on the court.

Who knows what happened in that Eagle County hotel room a couple of summers ago. Poetic justice is the result ” a house for the girl, and a shambles for the image Kobe had built oh so carefully, that house of cards.

On the court, where the Lakers begin and end for me, has become interesting again. If you are a fan of anything in LA, you should know better than to invest yourself emotionally in any sports, film, music or TV star’s life off the stage. They will inevitably only break your heart. Or make you want to throw up. Best to leave it all on the court, field or stage, as the case may be. Do not project human qualities that they may or may not have just because you like how they perform.

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That said, the Lakers are Shakespeare again. And that’s a helluva a step up from the Greek tragedy of last season. Maybe that’s the first and last year I root against them. It did feel weird.

Yes, true, I am way over the top with basketball. Any basketball, whether playing or watching high school, college or pro. Then again, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson are local stories in a way. Kobe for being a lout in our neighborhood. Jackson for his almost regular visits each year. He has at least one childhood friend who lives here and serves as honorary chairman of a foundation dedicated to helping locals in need.

Now Jackson I like. Always have. I liked his play off the bench for the New York Knicks when I was a kid, in LA. I liked how he coached the Chicago Bulls when we lived a couple of hours away for about six years. I loved how he came to the Lakers and turned an underachieving team into champs three years running.

Now he has his biggest challenge ever. Turn Bryant ” Bryant! ” into a team player. Good luck. And somehow forge a roster that can play out of all those small forwards. That’s going to take an awful lot of sage smoke, chanting and triangulation.

But if any coach can do it, Jackson can. He doesn’t have to win a championship to pull off his greatest accomplishment. Help make Bryant a team player, and maybe even a decent human being. Never mind Shakespeare. Maybe this will be downright biblical.

Ultimately, that’s what I’ll be rooting for. Can’t beat the story line.

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