Jackson unsure why Durant is upset
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson's pockets may be a lot lighter after the league fined him $70,000 in the last two weeks for comments related to the NBA's officiating, but Jackson took a light-hearted approach when talking about the fines Friday at practice.
"You can't do that anymore in the NBA," Jackson said. "They don't allow you to do that. I guess it was last year, I wasn't aware that the rules have changed, but they tell me that last year they stopped letting coaches spin. You have to be very honest and straightforward and never have any spin with what you say.
"I think we can get to be robotic like that. You guys would probably enjoy us just having stock answers to give to you, 'Everybody played and they played hard.' Things like that."
Jackson's most recent $35,000 fee came as a result of his statement about Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, saying that the "referees are treating [Durant] like a superstar."
Before the Lakers' game against Sacramento on Tuesday, Jackson was asked about Durant, who led the league in scoring and free-throw attempts per game (10.2) in only his third season in the league.
"As far as the calls that he gets on the floor, I think a lot of the referees are treating him like a superstar; he gets to the line easy and often," Jackson said. "He's got the ability to create fouls. That's a big part of scoring, to get to the foul line."
Durant, informed of Jackson's comments Wednesday, said he felt "disrespected."
"Because it's taking away from what I do," Durant told the Oklahoman. "That's part of my game, getting to the free-throw line and being aggressive. If you say that I get superstar calls or I get babied by the refs, that's just taking away from how I play. That's disrespectful to me."
On Friday, Jackson said he had not heard Durant's response but was unaware what could have prompted Durant to have a negative reaction because Jackson "was just straightforward and honest about the game."
"I really didn't know what he was upset about," Jackson said. "It really wasn't that upsetting. He shot the most free throws in the league; he made the most free throws in the league. He shot the most shots in the league; he made the most shots in the league. I voted for him on the All-Star team; he made the All-Star team. We know he's a great player, congratulations."
When Durant's comments were paraphrased to Jackson, explaining how Durant was upset about the insinuation of receiving favorable calls based on superstar status rather than based on merit, Jackson said, "Good. I mean, whatever."
Jackson was fined earlier in the month for comments after a game against San Antonio. He said the "referees turned against us" after technical fouls were drawn by Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant. He also called out veteran official Bennett Salvatore by name and said, "With Bennett you don't know what you're going to get."
Jackson, who was paid $12 million to coach the Lakers this season, was asked if the fines could be a tax write-off at the end of his media session Friday.
"Certainly," Jackson quipped. "That's a gift to the NBA charities.
"NBA Cares, they really care a lot about me. ... I got to get out of here before I start something else."
Lakers forward Pau Gasol was not aware of his coach's comments, or the ensuing fine.
"35 g's, huh?" Gasol said. "Nice. Big money."
Gasol, a teammate of Durant's on the Western Conference All-Star team in Dallas, also discussed Oklahoma City's star.
"Durant, he's been playing really well," Gasol said. "He gets a lot of credit for what he's doing and the referees treat him already like a superstar in, what is it, his third year in the league? But he's playing hard. I don't know if he gets extra calls or not. We're going to try to limit his touches and limit his free throws.
"We're not trying to play mind games here, we're just trying to play harder and play better and be the better team."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.