by Eric Paolini
I'm aware of how silly and sad what I'm about to write is, but that doesn't make it any less true. NBA Hall of Famer Phil Jackson's Twitter handle and first tweet infuriate me. It is the diehard Sacramento Kings fan in me that causes this sports hatred of the former Bulls and Lakers coach.
And I can't make that point clearly enough. I do not hate the person Phil Jackson. I hate the coach that led the team I hate more than any other, the Los Angeles Lakers, to five championships and more sports heartache for me than anybody else.
Because Jackson has a fairly common name I would assume @PhilJackson was taken on Twitter. Instead of adding an underscore or adding NBA he chose the handle @PhilJackson11 to signify the eleven championships he won as a head coach, 6 with the Bulls and 5 with the Lakers. He also included a picture of his eleven rings as his Twitter avatar. And on top of that his first tweet was, "11 champ;ipnsikp[ ringhs."
Phil Jackson was an amazing coach. Winning 11 championships doesn't happen because of luck. But let me point out that he was able to coach Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant. While I can logically understand that his motivational and coaching abilities milked everything he could out of those teams that rostered huge egos, emotionally I fall back to luck.
As a diehard fan of a largely unsuccessful team, watching a rival flaunt their victories is salt in the wound. What makes my sports hatred of Jackson all the more sadder is that the Kings-Lakers rivalry means way more to Kings fans than Lakers fans. They could not care less about the Kings. There was a brief period where the Kings challenged them but for the most part the Celtics are the Lakers rivals. Jackson's acknowledgement is a reminder that I follow a team that has never won a championship, unless you count the 1951 Rochester Royals which nobody does because they were two moves and a name change before becoming the Sacramento Kings, only had a brief period of success, is one of the most dysfunctional franchises, and may move to Seattle because of said dysfunction.
But beyond the Kings-Lakers connection what further gets my ire is the flaunting nature of his Twitter profile. There's a reason athletes offer clichéd responses, it's what fans want to hear. We don't like to hear players bragging about their accomplishments. We want to hear the athletes thank everybody under the sun for their achievement. We want to hear Phil Jackson acknowledge that he coached four Hall of Famers on his way to the eleven rings. And athletes are usually aware of this. When Tom Brady broke the record for most touchdown passes in a single season he wasn't quoted saying, "I'm the greatest, I deserve this record, and did I mention I'm the greatest?' Instead, he probably mentioned how great having Wes Welker and Randy Moss is and also the game's best coach in Bill Belicheck.
This forced modesty also carries into other aspects of pop culture, except for hip hop. Even though Daniel Day-Lewis won an award for his performance he felt it necessary to thank Steven Spielberg and the rest of the cast. It's why humblebrags exist. It's people wanting to be acknowledged but trying to operate in the forced modesty system.
Phil Jackson didn't follow the system. He's bragging about his championship rings. It's the equivalent of Daniel Day-Lewis creating a Twitter profiled with the handle @DDL3 and a picture of his three Oscars. To bring back the silliness of my whining, I probably wouldn't find issue with Tim Duncan or Gregg Popovich for flashing their four rings. But because Phil Jackson was a part of the Lakers franchise, I hate his eleven rings.
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