Phil Jackson Will Return To Coach Lakers

It has nothing to do with the $12 million salary. Don't think it does.

Phil Jackson likes a challenge. Like coaching Ron Artest. Or trying to get a team to repeat as champions.

Oh, and he likes $12 million. So since he is feeling healthy, Jackson made it official and announced he will be back to coach the Lakers.

At the heart of his decision was his health — Jackson has two replaced hips, an assortment of injuries from his own playing career that have crept up with age. Everyone around the Lakers can see the pain Jackson is in day-to-day, just walking around the locker room or trying to get on planes and buses.

Jackson, though, said he feels good enough to go again and he got the thumbs up from his doctors.

Having Artest — a player Jackson has long said he is intrigued by — will give Jackson something to focus on during the long and at times tedious NBA regular season. One of the traps that championship teams fall into is a “flip the switch” mentality, one that sees them coasting through the regular season and not doing the work to improve and be ready for the playoffs. Having to integrate Artest in the offense — plus the intensity that Artest brings — should make for an entertaining regular season.

And fans should enjoy it. This is the last year of Jackson’s contract, and he has hinted that when it is over, he will walk away. Whether or not that happens may depend on how much he enjoys this season. Oh, and the $12 million.

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