Having had time to ponder the toothless, clueless, classless demise of the Los Angeles Lakers, one important question comes to mind.
How's Jack Nicholson doing?
Mr. Laker might have more money than Switzerland, but you wonder if he's become a tad uneasy in these dark days, now that he has an expensive front row view of a team that just turned into a purple and gold train wreck.
So here's a farewell to the Phil Jackson era, with the help of the filmography of the man in sunglasses.
Curious, the person that Jackson referenced Sunday after the final disintegration of the Lakers, who went from two-time defending champions to The Departed. "As Richard Nixon said," Jackson mentioned, "you won't be able to kick this guy around anymore."
And really, who's ever had a sourer exit than Jackson or Nixon? Custer, maybe.
If this was truly goodbye — and when the kids fly in, that usually means something — the last bow will be famously infamous. With his once-great team Goin' South.
What we found out was that even a man with the wisdom and savvy of 11 championships doesn't have all the answers, and by Sunday, there were no buttons left to push. This was a team with all brands of distractions, such as Lamar Odom's reality show. And wonder how that's going lately? It was clear in the end that Jackson wasn't just a coach anymore, but One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
The ideal happy ending is that a legendary champion goes out on top, rather than reminding us how everyone is vulnerable, even a guy with more rings than fingers. John Wooden died having won his 10th title in his last game, and it will stay that way forever. That's As Good as it Gets.
It's not exactly Broadcast News, but there had been several hints of trouble with these Lakers. Remember their Christmas turkey? Not the one they ate, the one they played against the Miami Heat. They had several other shaky moments. Then in the first round, the New Orleans Hornets were harder to get rid of than poison ivy. So maybe we should have seen this Dallas sweep coming.
However, the bad aftertaste about the last day of the Jacksonian age comes not from defeat, but shame.
Clearly, defense and chemistry were not the only qualities that dried up on the Lakers, but also Anger Management. Odom's behavior was regrettable. Andrew Bynum's unforgivable. Whatever David Stern has to say to Bynum in the way of sanctions should not be Terms of Endearment.
The what-goes-around-comes-around irony is that Jackson's great run in the NBA began when the Chicago Bulls finally disposed of the Detroit Pistons, whose reaction to being swept was to slink away from the court without shaking hands.
The Bad Boys had that Superglued onto their legacy, and it was The Shining example of no-class acts by defending champions. Until Sunday.
So Jackson, sounding like a man relieved that it was over, can head for Montana, to pursue whatever is on The Bucket List at the age of 65. We can be pretty sure one item wasn't losing his last game by 36 points. But one terrible weekend can't sully an extraordinary career. He has done enough.
One suggestion. If the Knicks call, don't answer.
As for the fractured franchise, Something's Gotta Give.
The locker room needs massive repair, and that doesn't mean the shower fixtures. If the Lakers are to remain anything like the Lakers — contenders in perpetuity — they need to make quick fixes, down to The Last Detail.
It'll be tough. How Do You Know? The new coach gets not only the Jackson shadow but the Kobe idiosyncrasies. He'll have to find younger legs, straighter heads and sterner stuff.
These are anxious sporting days for Los Angeles, from the beaches to Chinatown. USC is still trying to get over the messy ending of the Pete Carroll era. The Dodgers required a takeover. And now the crumbling Lakers are in dire need of A Few Good Men.
It's the truth, Jack, but maybe you can't handle the truth.
Then again, movie stars understand sequels. Casting starts soon for the next one.