When Phil Jackson retired following the Los Angeles Lakers' second-round exit during the 2011 NBA playoffs, it seemed as if his third retirement would be the final chapter in his illustrious coaching career.
However, if the Lakers come calling, it seems that the 11-time NBA champ (as a head coach) would at least be willing to consider returning to Los Angeles for his third stint as the team's head coach.
UPDATE, November 10, 1:30 a.m. ET by Darin Pike
Indeed, it appears the Lakers did call on Jackson.
The Lakers have officially contacted Phil Jackson to gauge his interest in coaching them, The Times has learned.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 10, 2012
This seems like the best possible fit and a decision could be made over the weekend.
---End of Update---
Naturally, following the Lakers' decision to fire Mike Brown just five games into the season, Jackson's name was mentioned as one of the top candidates to right the ship in L.A., and at this point, it appears that the interest may be mutual.
This evening, ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that Jackson was already thinking about what his response would be if the team tried to convince him to return:
Phil Jackson is open to returning to the NBA sidelines, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the Hall of Fame coach's thinking.
With the Los Angeles Lakers relieving Mike Brown of his coaching duties Friday morning due to a 1-4 start, Jackson could return to the Lakers for his third stint as coach of the league's glamour franchise if it wants him back.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters Friday afternoon that the team's brain trust -- Kupchak along with Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss and executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss -- already has put together a list of potential replacements for interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff. Among the "four or five" names on that short list is Jackson, according to a league source.
As of Friday afternoon, however, the team had not contacted Jackson.
As he's demonstrated consistently during his lengthy career, Jackson simply cannot stand to be away from the game for long.
That's why each time he's retired, he's been back in the game within two years of calling it quits. It's not the money or the fame that lures Jackson back each time; it's that he genuinely can't keep himself from coaching, and if the Lakers call, it seems likely that he'll be forced to make a fourth retirement speech at some point down the road.
From the Lakers' perspective, bringing back Jackson is an interesting possibility, because it would represent the franchise scrapping its plans to move past the triangle offense. But as history has told us, the Lakers have enjoyed one of the organization's most successful runs while using Jackson's signature offensive system.
However, at age 67, it's difficult to gauge how many more years the Zen Master has left in him and whether his body will allow him to coach beyond this season, or the season after that.
Either way, with the Lakers desperate to save their season, they may turn to the man that brought them five championships, especially because this Lakers roster is arguably more talented than any Jackson's ever had to work with.