The Lakers current long stupor that has caused such angst among us, I believe, is caused by the Lakers, as a whole, becoming extensions of Phil's personality and demeanor. He rarely gets excited about anything much less regular season games, doesn't give or take criticism with anything less than tongue firmly in cheek and a wink in his eye, and has a generally slight superiority complex.
The team has rarely, other than in Phil's first championship here when they won 67 games, been a particularly dominating regular season team. They tend to drift at times, almost as if distracted, bored or unconcerned. Like Phil looks on the bench often enough.The Shaq years, the sad Kwame years, and the last few with Pau all have the same patterns. Peak and valley effort levels, much like Phil's interest in games. That first season, he wanted to create a dominating demeanor that would carry through season after season and he did it. But his focus on long term perspective versus short term goals has over the years crept into the teams psyche.
The current makeup of the team personality wise is particularly susceptible to his persona.
Pau, Lamar, Bynum, Walton, Brown all at times have effort issues. 3 of the top 4 players on the team. Phil's less than aggressive game by game focus has caused these guy's to buy into the idea that maximum effort isn't always needed to accomplish the teams goals. 3 years of this subtle influence is evident on Pau especially.
Kobe is the only player who has never bought into Phil's concepts. That's why they at times tweak each other. Phil may at times speak about shot selection, staying within the offense, forcing the issue too much, etc, little digs at Kobe, but he knows Kobe is his trump card. Nobody else has one, that's why after all these years Kobe still basically does what he wants. Phil knows Kobe will win more games, by far, by his effort and arrogence than he will lose. This however causes the other players, especially new ones to lose there own aggressiveness, as Blake, Brown and Artest often times show. They are uncertain of who's in charge and who they should please more at times. Young players are basically disregarded by Phil until he deems them mature enough. That is why they rarely show much the first few years under him.
Fish knows he has a lifetime hall pass with Phil as does the rest of the team, and while his effort is usually strong, he tends to not exert his leadership skills vocally as often as he should. He has that subtle arrogence that Phil exudes.The new players are cowed by the stronger personalities around them, Blake especially, Artest as well,and Phil's attitude of "let the players figure it out" doesn't always work.
Doc Rivers imprints his persona on the Celtics and that's why they play most every game like a playoff game. The Lakers play many games in the regular season as if it's pre-season, because Phil always preaches the bigger picture, the goal ahead. Both work, but this years team is in danger because the league has several teams very capable of winning 4 out of 7 against us.
Yet the rings keep getting sized, made and given to our players. Phil Jackson is the finest coach ever in the NBA and his approach obviously works, most of the time. This Laker team will play into June again despite the disinterest they currently show. My concern is when he is gone, how will the passive/aggressive demeanor of so many current Lakers adjust to a more day by day focus. The transition I think will be tough and we may see some rough seasons. So let's enjoy this one as much as we can.