NBA Roundtable

Chuck Person, Defensive Guru?

In Coaches Corner, General NBA on April 1, 2011 at 1:16 am

Excellent article by ESPN

Person was known as “The Rifleman” in his playing days because of his sweet outside shooting stroke, but his transition to defensive guru isn’t as strange as it might seem.

“Good offensive players who go to the other side, they know what to take away from scorers,” he said.

Phil Jackson adds

Person, a former assistant coach of Ron Artest’s in Indiana and Sacramento, was brought in at the beginning of last season on an interim basis to help aid in Artest’s adjustment period to L.A. Soon after he began working closely with Bynum and Bryant and by the time the playoffs rolled around last spring, he had been asked to stay on full-time and became comfortable enough with Jackson to share some of his defensive philosophies with the Hall of Fame coach.

“I gave Phil a copy of my defensive book strategies that I had, he read it, he liked it and it went from there,” Person said.

The first iteration of the Lakers’ new defense was actually deployed in the Finals against the Celtics.

“We knew we had to do something different against Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to get them slowed down in order to win that series,” Person said.

The impact Person made on the Lakers last year resulted in a job offer from Nate McMillan to come to Portland and act as the Trail Blazers’ defensive coordinator, but he opted to stay in L.A. and see what his system could do with the Lakers when implemented over the course of a full season.

“He took what Kurt [Rambis] had offered the team and kind of marshaled it from our group and extended it another step,” said Jackson, referring to Rambis’ responsibilities administering the team’s defense as an assistant coach before taking a job as the head man in Minnesota before the start of the 2009-10 season.

In Jackson’s “last stand” season, he even has relinquished practice time teaching his patented triangle offense so that Person could put his defensive system into place.

“We really kind of gave Chuck Person dedicated moments in practice to kind of really work on our defense,” Jackson said. “He’s been really good with the guys and handled it really well and we’ve taken extra time in practice defensively rather than doing as much offensive execution as we have in the past. It’s taken awhile. It took us about a month to just adjust to what we were doing differently. We still have guys making mistakes — that’s going to happen for awhile — but we’re starting to understand it.”

Person has used the practice time to not just preach the new defensive principles, but to get the players engaged and to take pride in making stops in difficult situations.

“He’s instituted a couple new drills for us — five against four, four against three — to put the defense at a disadvantage so we scramble around and talk to each other,” Bynum said.

There is also some wonderful stuff on Andrew Bynum in that article. Well worth reading in full.

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