Jackson Chimes In On Lakers’ Season, Front-Office Future And His Health

From NBA.com staff reports

Since being passed over for the Lakers’ coaching gig after Mike Brown was fired five games into the season, ex-Lakers coach and Hall of Famer Phil Jackson has kept a relatively low profile. Other than an “interview” with TMZ.com as he left a restaurant and another brief one with Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com, the Zen Master hasn’t had much to say about the Lakers, his future or his health.

SI.com’s Jack McCallum caught up with the 67-year-old coach, who won 11 titles combined with the Bulls and Lakers, for a story running in this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated. McCallum revealed a few choice quotes from Jackson that didn’t make the magazine, including some on how the Lakers are using Dwight Howard, his work as a consultant for a handful of NBA teams (though Jackson wouldn’t reveal which ones) and how zone defense has changed the NBA game.

Jackson on his consultant work:

SI: Do you watch a lot of games? Do you have the NBA package?

Phil Jackson: I just got it last week at Jeannie’s insistence. She didn’t want people thinking that her boyfriend is so poor he can’t get all the NBA channels.

SI: Do you take notes in case, you know, future jobs arise?

Jackson: I sometimes take notes. I have some people who have come to me and ask, “Would you watch my team, see if you can pick anything up?” Four or five teams, plus the Lakers. [He wouldn't identify the other teams.] So while I’m not officially in the consulting business, it might come in handy sometime.

Jackson on zone defense and what’s wrong with the Lakers:

SI: How does the game look to you? Similar from team to team?

Jackson: Yes. Basketball is a simple game. Your goal is penetration, get the ball close to the basket, and there are three ways to do that. Pass, dribble and offensive rebound.

The easiest one is — or should be — the pass. But the new rules allow you to throw more people at post-up players. NBA basketball is a big man’s game, and in the past they protected that aspect of the game. Well, those rules went out the window and what they didn’t do was consider this: If they’re going to continue to allow zone defenses to work and shut down the paint, then they have to put six more seconds on the shot clock. A 30-second clock. But they’re so attached to the idea of the 24-second clock that it doesn’t happen.

SI: Did you bring it up when you were coaching?

Jackson: All the time, all the time. But general managers always dominated those competition committees. Anyway, it [allowing limited zones] has eliminated some of the post passing and made dribbling a major part of our game. As a result, I think people forgot that there are still ways you can get the ball inside rather than just standing there and throwing the ball in. You have to have a system that makes all things work. Pop [San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich] has that.

SI: How would you describe that system?

Jackson: Popovich made significant growth 10 years ago or so after David Robinson left. It had been pretty stilted. You know, two big guys. A lot of stuff he does represents the triangle offense. They flow into it a different way. Strong-side triangle. Pinch-post action. Some of it may have come about because we were going at each other all the time in the playoffs and he had to defend against it.


SI: When you look at the Lakers now, considering that they’ve had a lot of personnel changes and injuries, what do you see?

Jackson: They just don’t put the ball in the post. They’ll use a screen-roll to get the guy in the post. But there’s no consistent plan to do it. Yes, Kobe will go in there. But Dwight [Howard] just doesn’t get any touches. They’ve basically eliminated his assets.

SI: But wouldn’t his assets be rolling off the screen-roll, with either [Steve] Nash or Kobe?

Jackson: You want the ball 10 feet away from the basket. Throw it into the post, make them double-team and have everybody around to make shots. That’s what Shaq could do. That’s where you have the Robert Horrys, the Derek Fishers and the Rick Foxes sitting out there getting wide-open jumpers.

SI: But Dwight is not Shaq in that aspect of the game, drawing the double team and finding people. Isn’t that true?

Jackson: I think he can be. But he is not where he needs to be physically because of the back surgery. He needs a year to recover from something like that. He’s starting to come around, but he has a massive upper body to carry around. He’s a terrific athlete, but he still has to get all that back. He’s looking better all the time, but his problem right now is turnovers. He’s got to have a little better recognition, and that will help him gain the confidence of his teammates and coach, which he does not have now.

Jackson on his future as a coach or front-office type:

SI: There’s little doubt you had a good run in this town, even after not winning it in, say, 2004, which may have been your toughest season, the one when Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined on.

Jackson: I did have a good run. There were always people who didn’t like the triangle, thought it was too methodical, too unlike Showtime. But I was always astonished about how well I was treated. When I came back [in 2005] and took the job, people actually thanked me. They didn’t say, “Good luck.” They said “Thank you.” I never forgot that.

SI: The $12 million question — and I’m just throwing out a number — is: Are you going to coach in the NBA again?

Jackson: I’m not coaching. I told Mitch [Kupchak, Lakers GM] that back in October. So when we sat down in November [to talk about taking over after Mike Brown was fired], he brought that up and I said, “Well, this isn’t about moving or going somewhere else and learning new players. It’s different. So I’m ready to think about coming back, but I still have to think about it.”

But I do hold out the idea that there’s still influence in the game I could have. Red Auerbach, Pete Newell, Wayne Embry, guys like that have had … a number of people have had considerable influence and haven’t been coaches per se.

SI: So … a GM job?

Jackson: I don’t like that term. Vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel is more like it.

SI: Vice president … that doesn’t sound like the boss, but the guy who would report to the owner.

Jackson: No, that guy would be the boss. He would be the president of the organization.

Jackson on his health:

SI: How is your physical condition? [Jackson has had two hip replacements and one knee replacement.]

Jackson: Working out, rehabbing is almost like a job. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, several hours a day.

40 Comments

  1. hi and thanks for the awesome blog! I have been hunting for anything like to this.
    i’ll be subscribing your Feed so i do not miss the good things! once again, great blog remember to keep this up! Please pardon me if my english is not good.

  2. DumbToniPlsKickMeOut says:

    Take Me out Lakers will win again and again..and replace me with JSloan or anyone except me..im a clown and jim buss loves me..

  3. NyK says:

    PS. Dwight wants everyone to read this article

  4. NyK says:

    If he doesn’t want to coach he should be a director of player personnel that would work closely with the coach and attend all the practices. He’s so knowledgeable about the game and how to utilize different players, He’s also talented at managing players with big ego’s, I think because his accomplishments command a certain level of respect that less established coaches may not get. Anyone that can get guys like Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest to buy into a system and consistently play at a high level must be good. Its just such a waste of talent for him to sit and watch games from his living room.

  5. Lakers4ever says:

    D’Antoni – Offense wins championships.. when everything with the lakers go wrong.. The leauge would change and have a polar shift.. RIP to the physical plays of the past and the fundamentally sound players in the leauge, defense, and excellent basketball. PHIL only has the ablilty to utilize the talent of players and motivate them to win as a team. Phil’s teams encountered physical teams such as the Knicks, Jazz and Pistons(in his BULLS days) and tough defensive minded teams with the lakers (Trail Blazers, Spurs, 2004 pistons and Boston Celtics). Today we would see a leauge of pussies(Derick Rose’s Bulls, Atlanta Hawks) and Brooklyn Nets) and video game teams such as the Miami heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and The LA CLIPPERS.. All-star game defenses =the defense of the ’12-’13 NBA season..

  6. ChenZhen says:

    yes, phil jackson is the best coach the lakers couldve had…but as he said on this interview..he wants to be the “boss” (vice president of basketball operations) now, easy. we know you have won 10 championships and trust me i’m a die hard laker fan for life and grateful for what you have done for the lakers fans…BUT even tho we all know you are dating the late dr. jerry buss daughter, jeanie buss, it doesnt means you have the right to be over the top even above the owner. thats just ludicrous and unacceptable. if phil jackson wanted to be the lakers coach he shouldve just accepted the job as it is nothing more…now i kinda get the same feeling about this same situation happened back in his chicago years when the bulls break up happened…hmmm. dejavu ?

  7. Darrick says:

    Its funny how short people’s memories are…..The situation the lakers are in is a result of a great move that got vetoed. IT WILL PROBABLY TAKE ABOUT 3 YRS TO REBOUND FROM THAT….bottom line, if the Chris Paul move ( a move that Jim Buss, Kupchak, etc. made) had gon through, ALL THE CONVERSATIONS IN REGARDS TO THE LAKERS WOULD BE DIFFERENT. They tried to make up for it in a panic, and it didnt work. I think things are gonna work out Ultimately….even if Howard leaves. A lotta free money, and they will still have Gasol

  8. PdaDunker says:

    Phil rules. STILL!

  9. victor says:

    the best coach ever…..you can not compare Phil with this D’antoni……I didn’t hear D’antoni ones speaking something about how basketball must be played :)

  10. lakers gaza says:

    fire dumtoni simple!!

  11. joey boy says:

    GASOL is injured…. pls sign KENYON MARTIN for LAKERS……

  12. Tim C says:

    Phil nailed it, no strategy to consistently get touches for D12. If you watch the team when the reserves play with Dwight, he gets the touches and scores more. There is more space to operate. This is very similar to the balance Phil found with Shaq and Kobe in the early 2000s. We cant win with Kobe isolating on the wing; just too easy to defend.

  13. If not P. Jackson, it should have been Brian Shaw and it would have been almost like having P.Jackson, but we don’t have either so we must work with what we have, I would love to have Phil anywhere in the Organization, GM would be almost better than coaching because the Organization would have to listen to Phil. Right now, all the Lakers have to do to win is play better defense and run the offense through D. Howard, NOT KOBE, that would send his confidence through the roof and he wood become a young Shaq, but more agile. STILL LOVE YOU LAKERS. just tighten up….. GO LAKERS

  14. RealDeal says:

    Simple words from the great coach. Get Dwight on the Post. I’ve never seen D’Antoni worked on Dwight on that Area. Dwight’s just like a rebounder and defender just another Jordan Hill on a Laker uniform. Dwight should be an offensive threat as well. cmon D’Antoni.

  15. Stan says:

    Phil would make the Lakers great by making dwight the first option. The Lakers are the slowest backcourt in the NBA and can not defend the fast break, their offense now allows too many fast breaks for the opponents by allowing Kobe to take outside shots you hurt the team. Go INSIDE first and watch Dwight dominate when he gets healthy. The Lakers will never trade Dwight so they need to make it work thru him. The Lakers need to get Gasol and Hill back and make playing time for Devin Ebanks. The Laker starters are great but they need Hill and Ebanks to play for their bench and D’Antonio never play Devin Ebanks who is a great defensive player.

  16. coach151 says:

    You guys just gave Phil Jackson just what he wants… Attention… This man never was going to take the coaching job, he just said so in his statement, and to say that he’s familar with this group of players, heck the only three (3) remaining from the 2010 Championship Season is Kobe, Artest (World Peace), and Gasol… Phil, this is a new group of guys and they don’t want to run the triangle, they want to have fun on a wide open court and make shots… This league has turned into a “Make Shot League”, I don’t care if you’re running Pick & Roll, Half Court, Triangle or the Princeton, today’s NBA’er needs to make shots if he plans to stay in the game… You have to defend, (something Jackson always told the players to figure out for themselves) and you sometimes have to play a zone defense to combat these penetrating Point Guards… For Jackson the game has changed, and changed alot, the days of a dominating Center are gone, the days of 4 or 5 seasoned vets on the roster are going, going, gone… You better have 9 or 10 young, strong, fast, and tall althetes… You need youth to win today, and alot of it… My problem with ‘Antonie (I remove the D on purpose) is he too afraid to let go and play those kids, and play them now… Greg Popovich plays his team, his entire team all season, so in case they need to step up and fill in they can, what would ‘Antonie do is Kobe went down, start Jodie, fine, but who spells Jodie…? Devin hasn’t played since Brown left, Sacre is spared for no reason at all, a Center should get some sort of rotation just for injury reasons alone… I believe the Lakers will make the post season, it’s just how long will they be there is what bothers me… P.S. Dwight, Just keep playing… Everything will come around…

    • BIGMatta23 says:

      Im going to go out on a limb here and say that Phil Jackson knows more about basketball, winning basketball and today’s NBA than you will ever know. Im also certain that Phil knows more about the Laker inner sanctum, even today, than you will ever know…your comments are misguided

  17. zach says:

    That’s what he did to Andrew Bynum, Luc Longley, shaq and cart.

  18. Dante says:

    I just can not believe the waste of talent on the Lakers.
    Is it Dantoni ? or is it Kobe. Kobe has always been a self centred
    little man.
    Another example was the childish “throw a fit game” when he didn’t shoot.
    It’s all about me. Let’s do the smart thing and trade Kobe away.
    His personality has always interfered with the Lakers and we know it.
    Jackson is right the Lakers are not utilizing Howard’s talent.
    Surprise surprise, with Kobe on the team did you expect anything else.

  19. RICK says:

    THE DARKEST HOUR IS JUST BEFORE THE DAWN. GO LAKERS, GO. I STILL LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU. WIN OR LOOSE, YOU’RE STILL MY TEAM. GENESIS 18:14

  20. mrtnlee says:

    lakers need phil, otherwise kb ain’t getting his sixth

  21. bryan says:

    lakers needs Phil Jackson

  22. Ok, Phil is a great coach no doubt but I would like to see him come back and see if he could really fix this team. Remeber people Phil has never built a team. He has ALWAYS inherieted a flock of great players and molded all the egos togther so they wouldn’t kill each other, but I would love to see him coach a team from the get go or team like the current Lakers who aren’t doing so well. To me that is the real sign of a great coach. In my heart of hearts I beleive had Doug Collins not been fired in Chicago he would have also won. He is one of the most pursued coached these days. Phil come back if you really want to leave a true legacy and see what you can do with this Lakers team!!!

  23. lbicevskis says:

    Is it just me or did what P.Jackson basically say is that he could move into Jims position and let Jim move into his fathers? I think this would be great for the Lakers if it could happen. Who knows what sort of inner turmoil/grief the family is going through right now though and how long it will take to even start looking at these things.

  24. John says:

    It’s obvious to me that Phil won’t come back unless he is allowed to run the basketball operations of the Lakers. So, as long as Jim Buss is doing that, no Phil in LA.

  25. Pete says:

    Interesting questions Jack. I liked this interview. I reckon NBA.com needs more interviews like this, insight to problems and explanations to solutions. Like proactively go around and ask opinions of players and staff as a segment. Pretty much more of what David Aldridge does in his weekly blog.

  26. son of jerry buss says:

    is an idiot…how can even eny GM take dantoni over PHIL? just idiot…

  27. JeffX says:

    This guy see’s the game so differently from other coaches. I agree Howard isn’t getting the ball enough and the zone is affecting Nash as well, all that aside the Lakers have the raw talent to make a run at the playoffs if they can get in. Also they have to remember there is no I in team. Apart from Howard & Clark, their main playing group are all 30+ (not sure about Artest) and their bench is somewhat ordinary. A good coach will work out how best to use what he has, if you don’t agree look at Chicago. They swing between 3rd and 5th without their no 1 gun, thanks to Thibs and a group of players willing to work TOGETHER.

  28. bugz bryan says:

    Come home Phill we need u seem your still interested Mike a clown

  29. Lakers made a huge mistake by not taking the time required to aquire Phil Jackson. This man just fixed the Lakers team basically. The Triangle offence allowed for a slow team to get back also while kept big guys in the paint to grab easy offensive boards while all the guards have a head start. Nash would have fit in well with the Triangle but a role more of a shooter.(Sharp Shooter). Mike D Antonie has no plans to get Dwight involved at all. If i were Dwight i would leave. Kobe have t play throughn Dwight Howard for this type of team to work. I mean directly through him. Yes this is his team but thats part of it. I guarrantee if he plays through Dwight that he will dominate. Desighn some straight consistent post actin in L.A Now! This will not nly allow our team to get easy looks but also get back on defence being that they are slow.

  30. I expected a question and a quote about Jerry Buss.

  31. ball don*t lie says:

    great conversation. i have to retract what I said previously about Mr. Howard – he probably wouldn’t dog it up and dn the floor if he was in the plan Mr. Jackson outlines.

    it would be intresting to see what Coach D’Antoni might say.

    • Dwight says:

      That’s why i said to hire Phil right from the beginning when the Lakers fired Mike Brown. Nobody listened. Jim Buss is going to destroy all the hardwork that his father put together. What an idiot. I said Phil can turn the Lakers into Titans. It might seem like they are horrible right now thats bc the Mikes don’t know how to use the pieces. You get what you pay for Jim Buss. You’re an idiot.

      • Dwight says:

        Just like the Suns and the Knicks, Mike D will get the Lakers to the playoffs but they’ll never get anywhere far. And whenthey finally get into the final, he’ll choke like he did in Phoenix