Lakers' Jackson implies refs influenced by Cuban

Updated: February 9, 2006, 12:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

HOUSTON -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson laughed off Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's claim that Jackson "must now be considered my bucket boy."

Cuban responds
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban responded in an entry on his blog (www.blogmaverick.com):

"I own Phil Jackson. Not literally of course. That thrill belongs to the smartest businesswoman in professional sports, Jeannie Buss. Figuratively however, the coach formerly known as the Zen Master must now be considered my bucket boy.

"This wasn't an acquisition I proactively pursued. There wasn't an official competition that I won, thereby confirming my dominance of his psyche. Instead Phil has initiated an ongoing commentary about me that started in his previous stint with the Lakers and was reinstated this year with his return, that proves I own the guy.

"For whatever reason, I have gotten to Phil so completely and thoroughly that every time he comes to Dallas he has to offer unsolicited comments about me to the media. I wonder if he dreams about me the nights he spends here in Dallas. Ok, I don't wonder. I'm curious about it.

"How can the NBA coach with so many championship rings find me so intimidating? I really don't know, but he said as much in December when he called me an 'intimidating force' to the LA Times:

"'Consider a place like Dallas, where the owner runs around, pumps up the volume, intimidates the referees and ... has announcers as hired cheerleaders, which is an intimidating force.'

"Then of course last night he again took the initiative to comment to the media about how I am such a presence in the NBA that I turn the officials into 'nervous nellies.' Implying that I can have more influence on the outcome of a game than his coaching skills. I wish. But if Phil wants to this so, I'm fine with that. That's what happens when you own someone, they can't get you out of their head, and they don't often think, speak or act rationally.

"I guess Phil was so overwhelmed that it caused him to take back-to-back delay of game penalties and the technical foul that comes with it, rather than send his team out to the court at the conclusion of a timeout in the 4th quarter.

"Of course the officials weren't intimidated. At least no more than the other officials who have given Kobe technical fouls to the tune of a league-leading 11. Maybe, instead of being so concerned with Mark Cuban, Phil should be worried about the new rule in place that causes a player to be suspended a game after he gets his 16th technical foul of the season. And if I remember correctly, every technical after 16 results in a 1-game suspension as well. Can't wait to hear what he has to say when that happens.

"Of course I don't truly believe that I own Phil. But that won't prevent me from walking up to him and saying 'Boo' to see if he jumps, just to find out for sure."

The comments were posted on Cuban's Web log -- under the heading "I Own Phil Jackson" -- on Wednesday, the day after the Mavericks beat the Lakers 102-87 in Dallas.

"It's just fun to have Mark in the league," Jackson said with a wry smile before the Lakers played the Rockets on Wednesday night.

In Dallas, the Lakers deliberately took back-to-back delay of game penalties and got a technical foul in the fourth quarter. After the game, Jackson implied that NBA referees are intimidated by Cuban.

"I know there's a lot of pressure on the refs when they come here, because Mark has them review the tapes and send them into the league," Jackson said. "And these guys are nervous Nellies when they come in to referee in this building. But they have to do a better job than they're doing. That's not acceptable."

Cuban responded in his blog: "For whatever reason, I have gotten to Phil so completely and thoroughly that every time he comes to Dallas, he has to offer unsolicited comments about me to the media.

"I wonder if he dreams about me the nights he spends here in Dallas. OK, I don't wonder. I'm curious about it."

On Wednesday, Jackson again accused Cuban of trying to sway officials.

"I think we all know what's happened around the league since Mark has picked up that franchise," Jackson said. "He's done a great job of bringing attendance to the club, he's hired former NBA referees to monitor the game tapes. He sends out a weekly report on referees.

"There are some things that Mark has done to turn it a little bit in his favor. And that's good. He's trying to do everything he can to sally up points."

Cuban, who said what he wrote was "all tongue in cheek," scoffed at the notion that he could have more influence on a game than a coach could.

"But if Phil wants to think so, I'm fine with that," Cuban wrote. "That's what happens when you own someone, they can't get you out of their head, and they don't often think, speak or act rationally."

-- The Associated Press

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