- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson both have won nine NBA titles.Both have written new books.Jackson’s “The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul” is a diary of last season, his most regrettable professional failure.

Auerbach’s “Let Me Tell You a Story” is a collection of stories told over a series of lunches at the China Doll on H Street. There are no regrets, just chow mein.

Auerbach was born Sept. 20.

Jackson was born Sept. 17.

But the years in which they were born — Auerbach in 1917 and Jackson in 1945 — help illuminate their differences.

Auerbach is Old School.

Jackson is New Age.

Auerbach smokes cigars.

Jackson burns incense.

Auerbach’s pregame ritual: Bill Russell vomiting.

Jackson’s pregame ritual: team meditation.

Auerbach is a member of the Greatest Generation. He was in the Navy from 1943 to 1946, when no one knew how much longer the world would last.

Jackson is a Baby Boomer. He was a member of the generation that aimed to change the world with protests, sit-ins and a copious amount of drug use.

The most significant difference between the two most successful coaches in NBA history: Auerbach built his championship teams.

Jackson’s largely were ready made.

Auerbach was coach and general manager. He was Jackson and Jerry Krause (or West).

He traded for Russell and Bill Sharman, drafted John Havlicek, Sam Jones and K.C. Jones, signed Don Nelson and then coached them to nine championships in 10 seasons.

Finally, Auerbach and Jackson are far more similar than they are different.

Both kept things simple.

Auerbach’s Celtics ran seven set plays.

Jackson’s Bulls and Lakers ran a single set offense, the triangle.

Both relied on superstars and they on them.

Auerbach didn’t win a title until he found Russell.

The only other coach Russell won with was himself.

Jackson never won without Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant. Indeed, they have never won without him.

But both put the team ahead of its superstars.

Auerbach was the best coach at role definition.

He invented the concept of the sixth man.

Jackson feels the bond a team forms is sacred. The inner circle, he called it.

Auerbach and Jackson, both winners of nine NBA titles, belong to an inner circle no one else is likely to join.

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