» HADOUKEN « could you have coached michael jordan in his prime to six NBA championships?
One of my favorite sports photographs of all time is that of Michael Jordan clutching the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy against his forehead — eyes bloodshot, in tears, vein protruding from his temple — upon defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. It marked the beginning of a dynasty, and while every professional sport has endured its share of dynasties, none have been quite like the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls of the 1990s. Sporting perhaps the best, and somehow most underrated, supporting cast in the history of basketball, before the decade had run its course, those Bulls teams were guided to five more championships by the steady hand of coach and “Zen Master” Phil Jackson. What a time!
For any Generation Z readers out there, you may not appreciate it, but in a past life, Phil Jackson was actually considered a basketball deity. Before being named President of the New York Knicks (and subsequently running them even further into the ground than they already had been for the last 15 years), Phil Jackson won 11 NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. Eleven. Eleven in 19 years. Curiously, in those 19 years, despite winning over 70-percent of his regular season games, Mr. Jackson only captured a single “Coach of the Year” award. How could this be? Did the sportswriters of America in charge of voting for Coach of the Year form an underground conspiracy meant to punish Mr. Jackson for inheriting teams full of future Hall of Fame players? Or did they all just get collectively trashed at each year’s fantasy draft and determine that each of them could, all things remaining equal, lead at least a few of those teams to an NBA championship themselves?
This week, legendary Spanish fashion house and luxury leather goods maker, Loewe, announced that it had retained the equally legendary Pascale Lepoivre (I’m fighting the urge to call him “Dr. Pepper”) as the company’s chief executive officer. Having cut his teeth at the turn-of-the-century Marc Jacobs-led Louis Vuitton, Lepoivre is known most recently for his role in revitalizing House Céline with the help of heavily accoladed creative visionary, Phoebe Philo. While Pierre Yves-Roussel — chairman and CEO of LVMH, which owns each of Louis Vuitton, Céline and Loewe — has not explicitly stated his intention behind the move, one thing remains clear: Mr. Lepoivre is inheriting yet another team full of future hall of famers, most specifically, wunderkind Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe and part of the 2016 Holy Trinity of fashion designers (Alessandro Michele of Gucci and Demna Gvasalia of Vêtements/Balenciaga rounding out the three, of course).
Under Mr. Anderson’s creative stewardship, Loewe has been the talk of the town for the greater part of the last two years. In basketball terms, he is Michael Jordan, Loewe is the Chicago Bulls and the triple-digit increase in sales YoY for consecutive years are back-to-back championships in front of consistently sold out crowds (read: consumers). I hate to pose the question, but you see where I am going here: is Lepoivre the fashion equivalent of Phil Jackson? Does LVMH expect him to manage the volatility of fashion cycles by simply letting that boy cook? And can a multi-national luxury goods conglomerate replicate success simply by playing fashion musical chairs with brands that have a built in heritage and prestige?
Or was Phil Jackson really that good of a coach and systematically disrespected by his peers by being snubbed for coach of the year around 10 times? Is being in a position whereby the expectations are so high, the talent pool is so deep and the egos one has to manage are so powerful that we underestimate how difficult it is to…win? And further to that point, if a coach truly is that good, why shouldn’t he be rewarded with top flight talent? You don’t see Steven Spielberg out here trying to make something out of nothing by directing bullshit films like Freddie Got Fingered or something like that now do you?
My apologies for deviating from weeks-past precedent by asking so many questions. Believe it or not, sometimes I’m actually capable of admitting that I do not have all of the answers (again, sometimes). Whatever the case, the HEC and INSEAD educated (seriously, that’s the French equivalent of holding degrees from Yale and Harvard), industry tested and life conquering Lepoivre is situated for another win. Even if he doesn’t get a coach of the year nod, there’s something to be said about collecting all them trophies.