On Tuesday, Phil Jackson expects to formally join the New York Knicks organization in a role that allows him to call the shots. On Tuesday, the Knicks expect to hold a press conference announcing that Jackson will serve as president. Ultimately, years of “We want Phil!” chants inside Staples Center fell on deaf ears, and Jackson finally left.
The Los Angeles Lakers and their fans, which include Kobe Bryant, must move past Jackson.
For days, the deal to send Jackson to New York was rumored to be a possible power play to push the Lakers’ hand into offering the 68-year-old basketball genius a job. On Tuesday, that moment will have officially passed now, likely forever. With Jackson locked up for five years, a return to Los Angeles would only serve to settle into serious retirement rather than return to join a Lakers’ management team that rejected and ignored him until he left town.
With Jackson rumored to be dipping his pen in the ink, fans wondered why the Lakers were not calling his cell phone.
Following the manner in which the Lakers embarrassed Jackson and hired Mike D’Antoni, that call was never coming. If the Lakers make that call, they open themselves up to Jackson rejecting them, publicly embarrassing the leadership, and undermining the future of the franchise. They would appear weak and desperate, and Lakers management would lose all credibility if Jackson chose New York over LA.
In the end, the Lakers would come away with a black eye that matched the one they gave the 11-time champion head coach back in 2012. For Jim Buss, co-owner in charge of basketball operations, he would have needed to relinquish power, bow down on his knees and kiss the rings without any guarantee that Jackson would accept a role inside the organization.
Despite the worst season in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers, Buss was not willing to declare defeat. Thus, Jackson flew away.
On the other side of the Lakers’ family and organization, Jeanie Buss continues to serve the team as president. Her fiancé, Jackson, new serves as her opposite with the Knicks. Considering she is engaged to Jackson, one can safely assume her vote would have been to keep Jackson in LA and with the Lakers. That future husband and wife combo would have been something, right?
However, that did not happen, and it will not happen.
Jackson is gone now, and he is not coming back. Tuesday’s press conference may officially serve as a “hello” to the Knicks, but it also serves as a “goodbye” to the Lakers.