Phil Jackson. Though he benefits from the high profile spotlight of the NBA stage, Jackson’s name may go down as the greatest coach in sports history. It’s pretty pleasing to have Jackson coaching the Lakers (in my California opinion), but the potential third 3-Peat of my Laker fan days, pales compared to Jackson’s pursuit of a fourth overall 3-Peat in his career. I imagine that it’s a little strange for Chicago Bulls fans to see Jackson winning all the championships with the Lakers, as it is for me trying to appreciate the Bulls’ championship run under Jackson in the 90’s—considering the Bulls killed the “Showtime” Lakers coming out of the 80’s, leading to a 90’s decade of misery for the Lakers.
I didn’t appreciate that, and I didn’t appreciate having to take the crown off of Magic Johnson’s head, and putting it on Michael Jordan’s head, as the greatest player of all-time (my elder wisdom now says Bill Russell gets that title). Let’s just say I thought Phil was cool back then, but when the Bulls won I didn’t have that big, stupid, 2week grin that comes when the Lakers have won championships with Jackson. Thus, it could be said that Lakers fans can at least credit Jackson for coming back to the scene of his 187 on the Showtime Lakers Era, and rebuilding a new Hollywood Lakers machine—Showtime was better.
The other names that arise in the discussion of great coaches: John Wooden (NCAA Basketball, UCLA Bruins), Vince Lombardi (NFL, Green Bay Packers), and Red Auerbach (NBA, Boston Celtics), all share in the extensive type of championship glory that Jackson has accomplished. Jackson is the only one in that group that has won so extensively with more than one franchise. Michael Jordan’s absence during the 1994 and 1995 seasons with the Bulls, says that the players obviously have something (major…check that, completely) to do with how many championships a coach wins. In his first 3-Peat stint with the Lakers Jackson had Shaquille O’Neal in his prime, and a young Kobe Bryant—who’s greedy such-n-such didn’t want to share the ball with Shaq and win a few more championships—and now Jackson has a slightly, more mature Kobe and the Kobettes.
Whether Jordan and Pippen, or the Laker combos just mentioned, Jackson has simply won. Like the other great coaches, Jackson has his own personality. It seems a sign of the times that Jackson would be the laid back cerebral brand of great coach, while the other great coaches mentioned had very strict and/or bodacious approaches to leading their teams. Jackson is known for giving interesting books to his players, and his Zen methods have even quelled personalities like Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest. I guess it goes to say that in these crazy days of a Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest society, that you need a steady leader like President Barack Obama and head coach Phil Jackson to score sweeping victories. Nice work Mr. President.
Los Angeles definitely needs a head coach like Phil Jackson to lead their Venice Beach and Compton mob of a fan base, and I sure as shootin’ hope that Jackson runs for Governor of the Great State of California (yeah, yeah, earthquakes and botox). Heck, everybody could use a little of Jackson’s Zen.
It’s good to see Jackson quietly chumming it up more than normal as he eases out the door, claiming retirement after this season. Some think that he will continue on with another team after leaving the Lakers, but Jackson doesn’t typically like to play rookies on his teams, thus I seriously doubt that he is looking for a rookie start; with any team that doesn’t have LeBron James, Dewayne Wade, and Chris Bosh on it. The Lakers can’t win forever, so I wouldn’t even mind if Jackson did go to the Miami Heat. It would seem that Jackson could coach that team to James’ suggested 7 or 8 future championships in his sleep. Plus I just went to Miami recently for the first time, and they deserve some more championships to take their minds off of the pending hurricane I always felt in the air (that’s for those who pick on California’s earthquakes. For birth to death Minnesotans, I give you winter.)
A Zen stroll into the woods seems ahead for Phil Jackson…followed by a lucrative book and speaking tour, a few cameos in Hollywood, and full input into the feature film on his life story. And I’m buying it all. Let’s all hope that no team in the NBA sticks their foot out to trip up Jackson’s cool, championship, Zen stroll out the door. Yet let there be no worry, Jackson’s coaching excellence will be celebrated for posterity regardless of this years’ outcome.
Laker haters, just hush. The country is better when the Lakers win.