Lakers head coach Phil Jackson reacts to his bench during a game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Lakers were lucky to get Phil Jackson back this year.
He was done last summer, ready to walk away from the Lakers and coaching and start spending most of his time on his ranch in Montana. He told this story to a few reporters Thursday night, including Mike Bresnahan at the Los Angeles Times:
"I thought I was going to retire last July," he said, remembering a conversation with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. "I told Mitch, 'I don't think I'm going to come back. You better plan on something besides this.'"
But the urge to chase a "three-peat," not to mention phone calls from Bryant and Derek Fisher, drove him to return for what he called "the last stand."
But if they win another three-peat, then he'll surely want to go for a...
No. No, he does not.
Jackson has never loved and is now weary of the lifestyle of an NBA coach -- heavy travel, long and odd hours, hotel beds that are too short for his 6'8" frame. The last couple years, all of that done on two surgically replaced hips.
He has made it abundantly clear this is it. One more run at a fourth three-peat (two with the Michael Jordan Bulls, one with the Shaq/Kobe Lakers). He already has more championship rings than fingers. His legacy as arguably the greatest NBA coach ever is secure (and only some Boston old-timers are really going to argue that).
Jackson will walk away after the Lakers last playoff game this season. Or maybe after the parade that follows that last game. But he is done.
Kobe told Yahoo Sports on Friday that he and the other players want Brian Shaw to slide over one seat and take over the top spot. He makes the most sense, because the Lakers run Phil Jackson's triangle offense (well, Tex Winter's triangle offense, really), and changing the system in the middle of a championship window means messing with what works. Shaw is a vote for the status quo -- and the status quo is the two-time defending NBA champions.
Kobe's endorsement should carry weight with team management. But Lakers owner Jerry Buss has never been a huge fan of the slow-it-down triangle offense. He would prefer to return to the days of Showtime. So the idea of them bringing in somebody -- maybe former Laker Byron Scott, currently in Cleveland -- to change the style of play is not out of the question.
We'll get to that question later. For now, just sit back and enjoy Jackson's Last Stand.