Phil Jackson Compares LeBron James to Michael Jordan, Hints at Future as GM

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIOctober 8, 2012

Former Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson has stayed out of the spotlight since leaving the NBA, but he recently discussed topics ranging from his former teams, to Michael Jordan and LeBron James and a possible return to basketball as a general manager.

Jackson made these remarks on the Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN Chicago. A full transcript of the interview is available via

Jackson first touched on the new stars suiting up for the Lakers this season in response to a question about how he would respond to coaching Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

His response centered around glowing praise for the forgotten star in Los Angeles—Pau Gasol.

“I think you left off the oil that’s gonna kinda make everything work. That is Pau Gasol.”

Jackson went on to explain how Gasol’s versatility on both ends of the floor will help the other three players excel.

Moving from topic to topic, the radio hosts eventually asked Jackson to compare Jordan—who he coached for nine seasons—to James.

Jackson highlighted James’ ability to play four positions at a high level, and stated his belief that the Heat star is the type of player who can lead a dynasty, saying, “I think he’s there, I think he’s at that position. He’s got good things ahead of him and a lot of it depends upon if he’s gonna be healthy for the remainder of his career.”

When pressed on whether or not James could surpass Jordan as basketball’s greatest player, Jackson was noncommittal. He weighed Jordan’s superior post moves and shooting to James’ unparalleled ability in the open court, but when touching on the topic of titles, he ultimately left his answer open-ended, concluding, “Can he match what Michael has done?”

When asking about a possible return, the hosts mentioned that Jackson had said he would think about another head coaching job in an interview with HBO in June.  But the retired coach stated that he never suggested consideration for a job on the sidelines, and would instead think about one in the front office:

I don’t think I used the head coach part of it in that when I was asked that question, but there’s a chance to build a culture and put a team together and figure out how to mesh players, coaches and you’ll get the scouting group together that can do the job. I think that’s something that intrigues me and would be the only type of job that I would consider.


Jackson has never been one to hide what is on his mind and he provided more lucid and sober opinions on some of the main story lines surrounding the upcoming NBA season. Fans will be hoping he is serious about considering a comeback, as his presence in professional basketball can only improve the sport.