Rosen: What’s Next for Phil Jackson?

Phil Jackson in 1996 coaching the Chcago Bulls

Now that Phil Jackson has stated that he has “no intention of ever coaching again,” two questions remain:  Why not?  And what next?

Here are some possible answers:

There are as many different kinds of coaches as there are different kinds of players.

Some coaches specialize in rebuilding teams (Gene Shue was the best at this).  Some take any job they can get (Larry Brown comes to mind).  Some are extremely industrious (Pat Riley). Some are profoundly literate in X’s and O’s (Tom Thibodeau). Some depend for the most part on the force of their personalities (Gregg Popovich). Some have a laissez faire game plan (Chuck Daly).

No one style is inherently better than any other.

Indeed, only the relative results that can be quantified.

Jackson has a different specialty—he takes teams that are one or two steps away from realizing their fullest potential and makes them champions.

Remember that until PJ took over their respective teams, Michael Jordan was ringless for six seasons, Shaq for seven seasons, and Kobe for three seasons.

However, there is currently a lack of teams that fit Jackson’s particular job description.  The clubs that would meet his specifications are committed long-term to excellent coaches.  This might include Pop in San Antonio, Lionel Hollins in Memphis, Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City, and Vinny Del Negro with the Clippers.

The remaining teams that might be seeking a new coach are either too far away from being legitimate championship contenders, too old, have dysfunctional rosters, lack the wherewithal to attract difference-making free agents, or are controlled by daffy owners.

Moreover, Phil has always been a hands-on coach, out on the court during practice sessions demonstrating certain moves.  Pivots, passes, cut-routes, etc.

With his recent knee replacement, Jackson, 67, now has three techno-joints — so his favored approach is no longer viable.  However, if he was certainly interested in returning to the Lakers and pushing his limitations, he couldn’t possibly be satisfied spending practice sessions sitting in an elevated chair and barking out orders. Which is part of what makes his latest public statement so mysterious.


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