The chance at a fourth three-peat and his 12th NBA championship was too much for Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson to pass up.
A day after his Finals opponent, Doc Rivers, announced that he was coming back for one more season, Jackson told team officials that he too will be returning.
"Count me in," Jackson said in a statement. "After a couple weeks of deliberation, it is time to get back to the challenge of putting together a team that can defend its title in the 2010-11 season. It'll be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one."
Jackson initially told the team that he needed time to address his health concerns before committing to another year.
The 64-year-old Jackson is the winningest coach in NBA playoff history with 225 victories and 11 championships as a coach. He has won five titles with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and six with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Fans and critics have argued about Jackson’s career beginning with his stint in Chicago, all the way through his current Los Angeles run.
Many wondered if he won his 11 NBA Championships as a coach simply because of the extraordinary talent that played for him. Others pointed out that he did a phenomenal job balancing the attitudes of overpaid prima donnas who nobody else could have handled.
Would Jordan have eventually won a title without Jackson, despite not doing so for six years prior to the hall of fame coach’s arrival? Maybe.
Would Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant have meshed without Jackson, despite not doing so for four years prior to Jackson showing up? Possibly.
Would Bryant have finally won a title without O’Neal last year without Jackson’s guidance, despite not being able to achieve the feat in the years between Jackson’s ’04 departure and ’08 re-arrival? Perhaps.
All of those questions, however, are hypothetical. Jackson's resume, though, is fact. Regardless of people’s stand on him, nobody can deny the results he has brought to every franchise he’s ever been a part of. His 11 rings do the talking for him.
In 2005-06 Jerry Buss thought 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 proved that a brand name with two titles in Tomjanovich could not easily walk in the shoes of a giant.
Jackson brings an aura of winning that no other coach in the NBA possesses. A seen-it-all-before-yet-not-jaded attitude that is perfect for the glitzy and glamorous Los Angeles environment.
"We're extremely pleased that Phil has decided to return," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "With this most recent championship, we've now won five titles in the 10 years he's been our head coach and have been to the Finals in seven of those 10 years, which is amazing. He's not only the best coach for this team, but quite simply the best coach in the history of the NBA."
The Lakers did not report a new contract with Jackson. His current contract expires after this season, and there have been many reports circulating throughout the season that the team wanted Jackson to accept a paycut.