LA Lakers reveal that ex-coach Phil Jackson still consults them


phil-jacksonJeanie Buss, the team’s executive vice president and brains behind the most popular brand in the NBA revealed to the Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina that Phil Jackson still consults for the Lakers.

Jim Buss famously gave the Lakers head coaching job to Mike D’Antoni last season after Mike Brown was terminated when he opened the season 1-4.

The decision was a quick one and came after Jackson had expressed interest in returning to the bench for the purple and gold.

The Lakers illuminati have since booed the selection especially after last season’s disappointing first round playoff exit, Kobe Bryant’s injury and Dwight Howard’s decision to flee to Texas.

But Jackson’s fiancé says he’s still a part of the Lakers family.

“I think we’re in good hands with our front office,” said Buss, referring to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and her brother, Jim, the team’s vice president of basketball operations.

“Jim and Mitch know Phil is a phone call away. He’s always available. He would always do anything to help, support or listen. It’s like we’re all family.”

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak also weighed in for Medina’s piece, saying that Phil does have a sporadic consultant’s role with the team — implicitly because of his engagement to Jeanie Buss.

Kupchak confirmed Jackson ‘s revelation that they talked “in the past couple of weeks” about unspecified issues concerning the Lakers.

“I’m not sure why somebody like Phil isn’t working for an NBA club right now,” Kupchak said. “He has so much to offer to any franchise. Even though he doesn’t have an official role with us, he’s a consultant of sorts.”

Jackson, for his part, didn’t discuss specifics when asked about his role within the Lakers organization, but he did say he’d reached out to Dwight Howard during the year to provide support during a difficult season after the previous summer’s back surgery.

“I just basically said let your play do your talking for you. You’ve come through a difficult operation. I went through that. It took me a full year to recover and more and you’ve done it in short order,” Jackson said, referring to back surgery. “‘Remember defense and rebounding is the key to this game and the other stuff falls behind that.’”

Jackson also weighed in on Kobe Bryant‘s convalescence after he had surgery to repair the Achilles’ tendon he tore in the regular season’s final week:

“Kobe’s got that determination and as long as he doesn’t over do it, he’ll come back,” Jackson said. “It’s hard for him not to. His goal is another championship. He also has a chance to replace Michael Jordan in the all- time scoring list.”

“I was not happy with how things happened,” Buss said about Lakers selecting Mike D’Antoni over Jackson, but she said it’s all family stuff.

“It was a difficult process to go through. I was disappointed, but I’m biased. I don’t think anybody would judge me to say (Phil) is the best coach in the entire world. That’s my prerogative to feel that way.”

Jackson was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 until 1998, during which Chicago won six NBA titles. His next team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won five NBA titles from 2000 until 2010.

In total, Jackson has won 11 NBA titles as a coach, surpassing the previous record of nine set by Red Auerbach. He also won two championships as a player, and holds the NBA record for the most combined championships (13) as a player and a head coach.

He also has the highest winning percentage of any NBA coach (.704). Jackson won championships as a player with the New York Knicks in 1970 and 1973.

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