The following quote by Los Angeles Lakers vice-president -- and Phil Jackson’s girlfriend -- Jeanie Buss describes why an already exciting 2010 off-season may become even more interesting:
“I know Phil will be coaching next year, somewhere. Whether it’s here or someplace else I don’t know," Buss told reporters Thursday. "There’s going to be a lot of good jobs that come up this summer…”
As the Cleveland Cavaliers stress over re-signing LeBron James and the Miami Heat face similar ulcer-causing concerns over Dwyane Wade, the Los Angeles Lakers have a franchise coach who isn’t shy about his willingness to work for another team.
Fans and critics have argued about Jackson’s career beginning with his stint in Chicago, all the way through his current Los Angeles run.
Did he win 10 NBA Championships as a coach simply because of the extraordinary talent that played for him? Or did he do a phenomenal job balancing the attitudes of overpaid prima donnas who nobody could have handled?
Would Michael Jordan have eventually won a title without Jackson, despite not doing so for six years prior to the hall of fame coach’s arrival?
Would Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant have meshed without Jackson, despite not doing so for four years prior to the Zenmaster showing up?
Would Kobe Bryant have finally won a title without O’Neal last year without Jackson’s guidance, despite not being able to achieve squat in the years between Jackson’s ’04 departure and ’08 re-arrival?
Regardless of people’s stand on Jackson, nobody can deny the results he has brought to every franchise he’s ever been a part of. His 10 rings, more than any other coach in the league’s history, do the talking for him.
In 2005-06 Jerry Buss thought Phil Jackson’s price tag was far greater than his worth and replaced him with another highly recognizable NBA coach in Rudy Tomjanovich. Tomjanovich’s run with the Lakers ended with one disappointing season. The experiment did little but show that a brand name with two titles in Tomjanovich could not easily walk in the shoes of a giant.
Jackson brings a aura of winning that no other coach in the NBA possess. An attitude that is perfect for the glitzy and glamorous Los Angeles environment.
There is no other coach in the NBA as perfect a fit for the Lakers as Jackson and, regardless of what happens this year, they should recognize that.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat have made it a priority via public statements to resign their respective free agent stars this summer.
It’s time for the Lakers to do the same.