Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/18/14
We can understand the excitement at the prospect of Phil Jackson returning to the bench for the Lakers. The fastest way to exorcise the failures of the recent past is to try to recapture the greatness of the not-so-recent past, and Jackson and the Lakers had a lot of success during their on-again, off-again marriage from 1999 to 2011, even if the marriage was not always a serene one. Still, the constant watch for who will succeed Mike Brown, with an understandable focus on Jackson, may have finally vaulted over the shark on Saturday with this line: “Jackson is in Los Angeles and was seen sporting a mustache, the same look he went with when the Lakers first hired him in 1999, at a recent dinner.” Lest this be taken as some sort of shot at ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, please know that it is not meant to be. Shelburne’s one of the pearls of ESPNLosAngeles. This criticism is not directed at her, but the absurdity that accompanies any big story out of Hollywood. We saw the same phenomenon last summer, when it was not enough to simply mention that Dwight Howard was in L.A., but what brand of sunglasses he was wearing and what type of car he was driving. These are not merely good journalistic details — they are that, too — but they are included in stories because the people who follow L.A. sports actually care whether Howard’s watch was a Rolex or a Breitling. Local reporters therefore have an obligation to provide such information. The mind boggles. Sure, such minutiae gets mentioned in other cities. But that is typically only when the fashion choices delve into extraordinary territory. Norris Cole rocks a flattop or Chris Andersenspikes up his mohawk? Sure. Jackson brings back the facial hair he has had for the majority of his coaching and playing career? Come on. It is hard to imagine any Celtics story reading, “Jason Terry, rocking a high fade and a white headband, scored 18 points.” On second thought, I may have to try that from now on. No word on whether Jackson’s mustache was of the handlebar or Fu Manchu variety. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
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