By Art Martone
BOSTON -- Maybe he just didn't realize, or forgot, that he was miked up. Or maybe he was at his Zen Master-ish heights, trying to plant seeds of doubts into the Celtics for Games Six and (he hopes) Seven.
Whatever it was, Phil Jackson provided a sound bite late Sunday night that will be the talk of the sports world today.
Speaking to his team during a fourth-quarter time out, and with his comments aired to the nation via the ABC microphone he was wearing, here's what the Lakers coach said to his team about the Celtics:
"This team has lost more games in the fourth quarter than anybody in the NBA. They know how to lose in the fourth quarter, all right? They're just showing us that right now."
Hmm. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Jackson just called the Celtics a bunch of chokers.
The Celts, for their part, didn't rise to the bait. Paul Pierce, in fact, said he actually agreed with Jackson:
"You know, he's right. What you just said, that's been the truth for us throughout the regular season.
"I haven't really seen too much of that in the playoffs, but coaches say things to try to motivate their team. He's supposed to give them confidence. He's supposed to say something like that. I probably would say the same thing if I was a coach in that situation. It doesn't bother me at all."
Maybe. Maybe not.
Whatever, be prepared to hear about it -- ad nauseum -- between now and the opening tap on Tuesday night.
A. Sherrod Blakley contributed to this report.
Art Martone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.