Avram Grant Visited Los Angeles Coach Phil Jackson

When possible, ESPN2 integrates American references into its English Premier League programming; occasionally it’s spoonfed.

Avram Grant pregame sideline interview.

Avram Grant is asked about his pilgrimage to Los Angeles to meet Lakers coach Phil Jackson. As everyone knows, Jackson is beheld as a guru, a wiseman, a Zen businessman, which qualifies him to receive visitors who have traveled far for the privilege.

Grant confirms that he did meet Phil Jackson and had a nice talk with him. ESPN’s choice to have a short pregame interview segment is not a bad idea, except Grant is not a particularly good interview. Although those who know him testify to his affability, he looks like a lugubrious yellow moon regardless of circumstances. It would prove difficult to extract entertainment from him.

The impression from this brief exchange is that Avram Grant, the struggling manager of a team likely to be relegated, has recently sought the advice of Jackson, not over the phone or email, but by two twelve hour flights. Some brilliant kernal or dust of genius brushed off Jackson’s wide shoulders and was taken back to London, a fairy dust that could be inspiring and lift Grant and his team off the floor, but little of the exchange is recounted, and the nugget of wisdom is not revealed.

Perhaps this is Grant’s attempt to keep his cards close to his chest. Perhaps it is not in his nature to run with a question and charm us with a clever reply. The unsaid comes off less tantalizing than it could have been, yet one wonders what the exchange between the two uncommon characters was like. This omission is not the only one. Neither Grant nor the interviewer tell us that the meeting in Los Angeles happened more than six months ago.

The exchange is really pointless, it had nothing to do with with a manager seeking answers in a desperate and tense time for the club; only the simple connection to American culture mattered, the effort to render the foreign easily digestible. Does international football, and soccer in general, still have to travel through common denominator? Hasn’t the American viewer—notwithstanding the political rightadvanced since the 1994 World Cup marked its real birth in the country?

3/8/11

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