Rosen: Inside the non-hiring of Phil Jackson

Okay, given that Buss and Kupchak were compelled to pay a visit to PJ’s digs, they still needed to promulgate reasons why Jackson was not the right man for the job. But the reasons that were made public were all falsehoods, my sources tell me.

  • Jackson reportedly demanded an outrageous salary – $18M annually, in some reports.  The truth is that Jackson made no such demand. In fact, the only topic discussed at the meeting was the makeup of the Lakers’ roster.  In none of Jackson’s discussions with management did he ever talk about monetary compensation. That was his agent’s job. And that’s why Todd Musberger caught a red-eye flight from Chicago to LA on Sunday night.
  • There was never any mention of Jackson’s wanting a slice of the team’s ownership. Never.
  • Nor did Jackson mention (much less insist) that he wanted to miss certain road games. Jackson was prepared to go and to be wherever the team was.
  • Kupchak also claimed that the triangle offense was not suitable for the Lakers players. Nonsense.  One of the characteristics of the triangle is its flexibility. When Karl Malone was a Laker, the geometry of the triangle was altered to suit The Mailman’s preference to play the high post. Kupchak, an ex-player, should have known better than to spout such foolish misinformation – if he was in fact the source of it.
  • And is the teamwide lack of speed and short bench suitable for D’Antoni’s madcap offense? And what about D’Antoni’s bragging in an NBA-sponsored clinic last summer that he wants nothing to do with big men who are only effective in the pivot? Just wondering if Dwight Howard got that piece of news.
  • The point was also made that Jackson’s last season with the Lakers ended in disaster. What was never mentioned was that Jackson wanted to retire after winning the championship in 2010. But Jerry Buss knew a lockout was on the horizon and didn’t want a new coach to have only a truncated season to try to establish a relationship with his players, so he asked Jackson to stay on one more year. In other words, Jackson did Dr. Buss an enormous favor by coaching a team that he knew didn’t have the chops to repeat.
  • Why didn’t Phil immediately accept the position? Because he is reluctant to make spur-of-the-moment decisions on life-changing matters. He needed 24 hours to make certain that his instinct to return to the Lakers bench was the correct one.
  • Why the call at midnight?  Kupchak said it was done to spare Jackson the embarrassment of coming to the Lakers office on Monday morning and be told that somebody else was hired. Midnight? Hmmm. How long before that time was the decision made to sign D’Antoni?

In just about everything they have done and said, the Lakers have treated the best coach in the history of the NBA with utter and undeserved disrespect. Plus they have resorted to propagating egregious falsehoods to do so.

Their just rewards are to have a coach who preaches all flash and no substance, and to depend on an almost 39-year-old point guard with a bad back and a recently fractured leg to be their savior.

For shame.


The newest addition to the SteridanHoops columnist staff, Charley Rosen is an American author and former basketball coach. From 1983–1986, he was an assistant to Phil Jackson with the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association. He also served as head coach of the Patroons, as well as the CBA’s Rockford Lightning, Oklahoma City Cavalry and Savannah Spirits. A native of The Bronx, N.Y., the 71-year-old Rosen is the author of 16 books about basketball. He is known for his in-depth analysis and caustic views. 


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  3. Matt says

    Isn’t Phil dating his sister? Jim probably has to hear his sisters moan through the wall at night.

    Plus whatever over the table comments like “I banged your sister” and stuff.

    This is what happens when you pass on businesses on families

  4. james katt says

    How would you suggest to fix the Lakers?
    They have a lot of talent but they aren’t being utilized correctly.
    How would you move and change things around?

  5. WammyGiveaway says

    Another reason why Phil Jackson was shafted all has to do with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers, former laughingstock of the NBA turned contenders overnight after the Laker’s original trade of Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets was vetoed by commissioner and acting owner David Stern. The All Star point guard, coupled with franchise cornerstones Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, helped transform little step brother into Lob City, which is just like Showtime, but younger and even better. He was embarrassed by the league’s handling of the vetoed trade, and ultimately humiliated when the Clippers gave the Lakers their worst start (0-3) in franchise history since 1979. Jim Buss was determined to make his father proud by carrying on his legacy, but he didn’t just want to win the title with dominance – he wanted revenge on the team who not only stole Chris Paul and Showtime away from the Lakers, but their future as well.

    Mike D’Antoni is the same coach who eliminated the Clippers from the 2005-06 NBA Playoffs. He hopes that the image of D’Antoni on the sidelines will bring fear into the hearts and souls of Clipper faithful. Though Elton Brand, Sam Cassell and the other Clippers of that team have moved on or retired, Donald Sterling is still running the franchise and has not forgotten.

    But the ultimate twist to this tale of revenge is the following: Dr. Jerry Buss and Donald Sterling are friends. Sterling helped chipped in a few millions to Dr. Buss in purchasing the Lakers franchise in 1979, and in turn Dr. Buss introduced Sterling to the NBA, who would then purchase the Clippers a year after. Donald would do anything for his best friend, even if it meant for his Clippers to lose on purpose to give the Lakers a fighting chance at a title. That was all in the past.

    Jim Buss’s personal disdain for the Clippers could be what motivated him to select Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson. And because of that, the possibility of the Zenmaster coaching the Clippers may not be as farfetched as some had originally thought.

  6. says

    As a Lakers’ fan and a Jackson fan, it was sad to see and I understand your reasons for writing about it. However as a long time fan of your writing, I am looking forward to your game and player breakdowns much more than off court drama.

  7. Kevin Fries says

    Welcome, Charley! I really missed your columns when you moved on to another place and am glad I took the effort to find your byline. Glad to see you’re still writing and I always enjoy your opinions and reporting.

  8. A.J. says

    If that’s Rosen’s opinion, then why doesn’t he also do a little investigative journalism and “out” the 119 sportswriters and broadcasters that voted in 2009 for NBA Coach of the Year. He slammed Brown and Jim Buss, so how about giving it to his butt-head fraternity brothers that caused Buss to hire Brown in the first place. I’ll bet a lot of those very same homers, shills and hypocrites are guys that subsequently attacked both Brown and Buss.

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