But Jackson was always surprising his players. Using smoldering leaves of white sage to cleanse the locker room of negative energy. Beating on a tom-tom to attract positive energy. Leading meditation exercises that directed players to identify their personal "safe" spots on the bench. Forgoing the standard-issue team sweat suits to conduct practice sessions while wearing a tie-dyed shirts and cut-off jeans.
Jackson also used video sessions to keep his players guessing. Like the time he interrupted the tape of a post-season game played in 1996 between the Bulls and the Heat by silently replaying one particular sequence five consecutive times: Miami's forward Chris Gatling had severely sprained an ankle, but since Chicago had possession, the Heat were unable to call a time-out. With Gatling literally hopping on one leg, the Bulls spread the floor to determine whom he was guarding, which turned out to be Kukoc. The obvious call was to isolate Kukoc on Gatling, a play that started with Kukoc dribbling a few feet beyond the 3-point arc. Whereas a drive hoopward would certainly be the most profitable option, Kukoc suddenly pulled up his dribble and unleashed a long three-pointer—which missed.
As Jackson repeated the play, the Bulls were totally intent on hearing what his eventual comment might be. "That's why," Jackson finally said, "Yugoslavia has never won a war."
The players burst into laughter, and Kukoc was appropriately chagrined without being subjected to searing verbal abuse.
In preparation for playoff series, Jackson would also intersperse his scouting videos with random cuts that likewise compelled his players' rapt attention. Like suddenly switching from an opponent's high screen/roll schemes to a few seconds of Frank Layden, the Utah Jazz's ultra-flabby 350-pound president, wearing a tiny bathing suit while jogging on a beach.
What would Coach do next?
Jackson was pretty much the only NBA coach who spoke to the media without a filter. When Mike Fratello was coaching the Atlanta Hawks he'd often demur from answering post-game questions by saying that he'd have to look at the game tape before commenting. Previous to Mark Jackson's being named coach of the Golden State Warriors, he was a call-it-like-it-is color commentator for NBA telecasts. But when he was interviewed during the NBA draft, the new coach spoke only in platitudes: Whichever player his new employer team drafted would be a terrific addition to the team's mix. The Warriors would definitely make the playoffs. Blah, blah, and blah.
On the other hand, PJ always spoke his mind. When Michael Jordan was a free agent and the media was touting the probability of his signing with the Magic, Jackson scoffed at the very idea, saying that His Airness would never do such a thing because Orlando was "a plastic city." Jackson has also described the screaming-horn-blaring fans in Utah and Portland as being adolescent know-nothings.
Minus Jackson's honest opinions, the remaining inhabitants of the command seats will speak nothing but politically correct coachese.
Consequently, if/when the 2011-12 season commences, the NBA after PJ will lack freshness and creativity, an abiding sense of reality, and differentiated game strategies. The NBA will move forward into the pre-Jacksonian past.