LOS ANGELES (AP) – Phil Jackson the baseball coach?

That’s right. Jackson’s first coaching job was as a baseball coach when he went to school at the University of North Dakota in the late 1960s.

Jackson liked the job, but found basketball to be more of a challenge.

“Jerry Reinsdorf always used to say, well, it’s probably more difficult than coaching baseball because you’ve always got to make a move. Every single move is another chess situation for you,” said Jackson, referring to the Chicago White Sox owner as well as his former boss with the Bulls.

No disrespect to Joe Torre of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the all other baseball managers out there.

“I definitely follow the major sports’ championships, and I think that Joe’s low key manner is something to what I have. He seems to be able to take everything in hand, also handle the players’ personalities I think is a big part of that,” Jackson said.

Buss’ personal PR

Jeanie Buss won’t be updating you with scores or highlights from the NBA finals. But she will tell you what “The Hills” star Lauren Conrad is wearing when she shows up to watch the Lakers play the Orlando Magic.

Buss’ Twitter feeds and video interviews with Lakers coach and boyfriend Phil Jackson are a hit with fans and media members.

“I knew I couldn’t Twitter about how the team is playing or basketball stuff, but I can make you feel like you’re at the game,” said Buss, the daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss and the vice president of business operations for the team.

“People started asking me what the score was, so I started throwing it up there once in a while.”

Jackson constantly gets questions about his video diary from one particular sports writer. The video entails Buss quizzing Jackson about the upcoming game either at their home or on the way to Staples Center.

Horses near Staples

Nope, just former Lakers player Rick Fox and jockey Iggy Puglisi playing a game of H-O-R-S-E in front of Nokia Live and across from Staples Center before Game 2 of the finals.

Fox, who won three championships with the Lakers, won the game after getting off to a slow start.

“Once my shot warmed up, I was good,” said Fox, whose name has been splashed in headlines lately because of his relationship with “Dollhouse” star Eliza Dushku.

“That seems to be the latest media blitz. But we’re just trying to get to know each other without too much media scrutiny,” said Fox.

Howard’s charity work

Dwight Howard knows that “Hack-a-Shaq” has always been a way to stop the first All-Star big man to call himself Superman. So the Orlando star has been focusing on improving his free throw shooting so a similar strategy isn’t used against the latest Superman.

After shooting 59 percent in the regular season, Howard shot 70 percent in the Eastern Conference finals. In Game 1, he went 10 of 16 from the charity stripe.

Teams would often foul Shaquille O’Neal because he was such a poor free-throw shooter, and teams have considered the same strategy as a way to slow Howard and the Magic.

“From the beginning of the Philadelphia series on, he’s spent a lot of extra time shooting free throws because obviously people strategy-wise want to put him at the free throw line. He’s worked hard,” said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, who coached O’Neal in 2004-06.

Bank shots

There was a moment of silence before Game 2 for Randy Smith, the former Buffalo Braves All-Star who died Thursday at 60 after a heart attack. … Kris Allen, who won American Idol, sang the national anthem. … The game began just after 8 p.m. EDT, as will Game 5, if necessary. The NBA this season moved up the starting times of the Sunday games in the NBA finals by an hour.


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