Is Phil Jackson really done coaching in the NBA? It did not appear so earlier this year when it looked as if he was clearly interested in coming back to coach the Los Angeles Lakers after they fired Mike Brown five games into the season. But now, after turning down the Brooklyn Nets job earlier this week, it looks more likely that he is indeed through with coaching.
It looks now like Jackson mat be headed to the front office, taking a cue from another great Lakers coach, Pat Riley, who has found more success as a GM with the Miami Heat. The Nets may live to regret not making Jackson the GM of that franchise before it is all said and done.
So where might the Zen Master land as a GM? Much like coaching, look for a struggling franchise, especially one that is used to winning, to want to make a change ad turn over the reigns to Phil. The Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans, immediately come to mind. Would the Pistons fans accept a former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach running the team? If he turns them around they will.
Where would I like to see him land? How about the Orlando Magic? Can the Magic fire their GM after one year? If there was ever a reason to, this would be it. Imagine he and Riley going head to head in Florida. Jackson would have a beautiful new arena and a lot of golf days to lure guys to Disney World. Or, how about the Los Angeles Clippers? That would be a nice reason for Chris Paul to re-sign with the Clips. And wouldn’t that just send the die-hard Lakers fans over the edge?
What about the Charlotte Bobcats. Let Michael Jordan finally make a smart decision and turn operations over to his coach. Could he work for one of his former players though? That would be interesting to see.
But one thing seems apparent. And that is we have probably seen the last of Jackson on the sidelines. That would mean the end of a career that saw him win 11 NBA World Championships as a head coach. tying him with the immortal Red Auerbach for the most of all-time. It would be nice to see him get a shot at breaking that record, but if not, we have witnessed one of the all time great careers in any sport. For those of us too young to remember Auerbach’s run with the 1960s Boston Celtics, it has truly been a privilege watching Jackson’s career.
Jackson has coached some of the all-time greats in his career in Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. If anyone out there knows more about championship talent than Jackson, we don’t know who that would be.