It might be legal for the Lakers, but it’s still bad PR

The Phil Jackson / L.A. Lakers debacle is a fascinating example of how not to run a business. If the stories we read are all accurate, and they probably are as they pretty much sync from both sides, then it is a wonder why a basketball team the stature of the Lakers treat the historic Phil Jackson with such disrespect?Jackson, who gave the Lakers a series of national championships and significantly increased the value of the franchise, didn’t come knocking on their door looking for a job.  They got themselves into a mess with Coach Mike Brown and then they went to Jackson to bail them out.  He graciously took the meeting with GM Mitch Kupchak and owner son Jim Buss.  That was on a Saturday.  The understanding was to give him a couple of days to think about it.  How unreasonable is that?  On Monday Jackson’s agent was on a plane to negotiate a deal.  However, for some unexplained reason, the Lakers brain trust rushed to pen a deal with Mike D’Antoni on Sunday night then called Jackson at midnight to tell him he was out.

How in the world could the Lakers act in such a dismissive and disrespectful way to Jackson? What was the rush?  To wake Jackson up at  midnight to tell him “don’t bother” just sounds shabby and slimy as it has been described, and described accurately.

Which brings me to my point.  What the Lakers did was entirely legal.  They didn’t break any laws or any of the billion NBA rules.  But doesn’t common decency dictate an approach that is just, well, just more decent?  In today’s world of business, is all fair as long as it is simply legal?  How about showing one another some common courtesy?

This doesn’t apply only to Phil Jackson, the one person who has earned a high level of respect.  It applies to everyone.   If we run our business lives only by what is legal, then we lower ourselves to levels just above wild animals.  Animals only survive by doing what’s good for them and have no societal rules of common decency.  We humans do, or we are supposed to.

Phil Jackson will be fine. He will always be a legend.

After this, I am not so sure about the Lakers.

Microsoft’s Surface

Last week Microsoft introduced for purchase its new tablet the “Surface.” On its first day, my son said he wanted to go to the Microsoft store and take a look. I warned him that it will probably be crowded, perhaps lines around the block and for sure he won’t get any assistance.

Quite the opposite. No lines and plenty of help.

When Apple introduces any new product, customers and the press can’t get enough of it. Front page news and lines around the block are expected. So are Apple’s products so much better than Microsoft’s? I like the Surface and even bought it for my son. I like it much more than my iPad. More business-friendly. But why not the buzz?

It all goes back to the marketing genius of Steve Jobs. Jobs turned Apple products into works of art. Magical toys. And he knew how to build anticipation and excitement.

The power of brilliant marketing can’t be overestimated. Yes, products have to be good, but how their are marketed, sometimes, is even more important.