10 Reasons Why Phil Jackson Would Never Return to L.A. Lakers
With the most recent report regarding Jackson's future plans in the NBA being focused around the Orlando Magic's GM vacancy, it's clear that Jackson is still interested in being a part of the NBA, but it looks like it will be in a different capacity than he is used to.
With that being said, no matter what Jackson decides to do, one thing is clear— Jackson will never make a return to the Lakers.
Ahead are the 10 reasons why Phil Jackson would never return to the L.A. Lakers.
There's Nothing Left for Phil to Prove in L.A.
In those seasons with the Lakers, Jackson not only solidified himself as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, but he also proved to the NBA world that he can win with whoever he has on his roster.
Jackson can win NBA titles with two superstars, and he can win them with just one superstar. Jackson proved in L.A. that no matter where he is in the league, he's always capable of winning titles.
Jackson has nothing to prove by making a return to the Lakers, and that's reason enough for him to never take his head coaching skills back to L.A.
Kobe Bryant Isn't Getting Any Younger
Phil Jackson has always coached superstars during his career.
With the Bulls it was Michael Jordan, and with the Lakers it was Shaquille O'Neal and then Kobe Bryant.
If Jackson would entertain the idea of making a return to the Lakers, it would have to revolve around being able to coach a superstar, and while I hate to break the news to everyone—Kobe isn't getting any younger.
Jackson left Chicago when Jordan was 34-years old, and he left L.A. when Kobe was 33-years old. While that doesn't necessarily mean anything, it shows that Jackson understands when his players are starting to get past their prime, and that's exactly what is starting to happen to Kobe.
There Are Better Jobs for Him in the NBA Than Returning to L.A.
There are much better jobs in the NBA for Jackson than returning to a team he already coached.
Jackson's won NBA titles and excelled as a head coach with two of the biggest teams in NBA history—the Chicago Bulls and the L.A. Lakers.
Instead of returning to L.A. to prove that he can still do what he did with the Lakers, it's better for him to take a job that showcases his skills of rebuilding a franchise or winning without a legitimate superstar running the show
While Jackson certainly doesn't need to prove anything to anybody when it comes to his head-coaching abilities, there's no doubt that taking a job with a team he's never been with before would further solidify him as the all-time greatest coach in NBA history.
It's Time for Phil Jackson to Shine in a Small Market
Phil Jackson asserted himself as one of the greatest head coaches of all time by leading two big-market teams—Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers—to 11 NBA titles.
We all know that Jackson could hop right back into the NBA and do that again with a team like the Lakers, but that's not what Jackson needs to do.
It's time for Jackson to prove that he can carry over his big-market success with a small-market team, and he can't do that by returning to his old stomping grounds.
Jackson is smart enough to understand that to truly solidify himself as the greatest coach of all time, he needs to prove that he can win titles with a small-market NBA team.
Phil Jackson Doesn't Return to a Team He's Already Coached
If there's anything we've learned about Phil Jackson over the years, it's that he knows when it's time to call it quits.
He knows when his players just aren't capable of achieving the same high-level of success that they once did, and that's when he walks away. Which is something that a lot of coaches don't know how to do.
With that being said, Jackson also knows that once you've achieved a high level of success with a specific team, it's better to walk away on top and never look back then to try and make some sort of epic return.
I'm sure there were opportunities when Jackson could have returned to the Bulls over the past 10 years, but he's smart enough to know that's not a smart move for his legacy, and the same goes for making a return to L.A.
Phil Jackson Already Passed the Torch to Mike Brown
Phil Jackson isn't the kind of guy to pass the torch to another guy, just to come in a few years later and prove that he wasn't man enough for the job.
This past offseason, Jackson passed the head-coaching duties to a very skilled man, Mike Brown, and the last thing that Jackson wants to do is come back in and take them back over from him.
Jackson is an extremely humble man and head coach, and for him to return to the Lakers, taking back the head-coaching duties after he handed them over to Brown, would be extremely out of character for him to do.
It's Time for Phil Jackson to Win a Title Without a Superstar
Phil Jackson's always had a superstar to help enhance his coaching abilities in the NBA.
I'm sure Jackson could make me look like an NBA superstar in the triangle offense, but there's no doubt that Jordan, Kobe and Shaq helped him out in his coaching legacy along the way.
Jackson could never coach another game in the NBA, and he'd still go down as a top-five coach of all time. But he could inch towards the honor of being "the greatest of all time" if he can manage to coach a team of non-superstars to an NBA tittle.
A team like the Charlotte Bobcats would be a perfect job for Jackson, as it would certainly give him the opportunity to win an NBA title without superstars. While no one knows where Jackson will coach his next NBA game, one thing is for sure—he needs to coach somewhere without superstars, and that place surely isn't L.A.
Phil Jackson Knows the Direction the Lakers Are Going
When Phil Jackson left the Lakers at the end of the 2010-11 season, they had just come off winning back-to-back NBA titles for the first time since the Lakers did it back in the early 2000s.
It's certainly not a coincidence that Jackson decided it was time to end his NBA head-coaching career at the end of that season.
Jackson knew that the Lakers, as a franchise, were only going to struggle more over the next few seasons, and he knew that was his sign to hand the team over to someone else.
With that being said, it's clear that Jackson knew it was the right time to leave based on where the Lakers franchise was heading, and that doesn't bode well for him ever making a return as a head coach for the Lakers.
Phil Jackson Might Be More Interested in Being a GM Than an NBA Head Coach
ESPN reported that while Phil Jackson was interested in the Orlando Magic's open GM position, he ultimately decided to "go with another opportunity."
While only a few people close to Jackson probably know what that "opportunity" is, it's clear that Jackson has interest in working in the NBA in a non-coaching job, which gets int he way of him every returning as the Lakers' head coach.
The Lakers need Jackson more than he needs them, and it's clear that he may have already moved on to pursuing his interest in different aspects of working within an NBA team's front office.
Phil Jackson Might Not Ever Coach for Any NBA Team Again
When Phil Jackson "retired" from head coaching in the NBA it appeared to be a fairly firm retirement, which means he truly might never coach in the NBA again.
Of all the reasons why Jackson would never return to the Lakers, the fact that he's retired is at the forefront.
Sure, there have been players and coaches who retire, then un-retire, then retire, then ... well, you get the picture. But Jackson, throughout his entire 20-year NBA coaching career, has never been the kind of person who's gone back on his word, and I don't expect him to start doing that now.
Jackson will never return to the L.A. Lakers, and that's best for both parties involved.