Considering his whopping 13 NBA championship rings—11 as coach, two as a player—and a lack of anything to prove, Phil Jackson returning to the Los Angeles Lakers seems like more of a daydream than a reality at this stage.
As it turns out, a Jackson comeback may be surprisingly imminent.
According to CSNBayArea.com's Ric Bucher, there is a "strong" possibility that Jackson will take over for Mike Brown—the man who succeeded him—after Brown was fired on Friday with the Lakers off to an ugly 1-4 start to the 2012-13 season.
Per Bucher, there is a massive stipulation in bringing Jackson in:
There is a scenario in which former Lakers coach Phil Jackson would consider returning for a third stint with the team...but it will require executive VP Jim Buss once again relinquishing the organizational reins – and this time handing them to Jackson, rather than back to GM Mitch Kupchak.
The romantic link between Jackson and Jeanie Buss may have some influence on this decision—as could the chilly relationship between Jackson and Jim Buss over the years.
In what capacity should Phil Jackson serve the Lakers in 2012-13?
But not only would Jackson be the head coach, he would also have free reign in personnel decisions.
Bucher notes another possibility: Longtime assistant Brian Shaw could in fact be the head coach, but Jackson would still be hired as a mentor.
That could work, but things have worked out pretty well for Jackson when he's been at the helm, and he would have to ensure that Shaw and the players stayed on the same page. It seems a lot more feasible to just bring in Jackson as the coach instead.
The triangle offense that Jackson is renowned for would certainly be an improvement from Brown's attempt at implementing the Princeton system. One caveat, though, is that newly acquired point guard Steve Nash would fit much better in a pick-and-roll based system, which could be achieved if LA hires his former head coach Mike D'Antoni instead.
That's all well and good, but this is the Zen Master. Any way that he can be involved will be a huge positive.
As great as superstars Dwight Howard and Nash have been throughout their respective careers, neither has been able to get over the hump and win an NBA title. That's why they came to the City of Angels, and Jackson would be key in maximizing their strengths and taking them to pro basketball's promised land.
There are definite concerns over Jackson's health issues, which have held him back in the past and made it difficult for him to travel.
His various ailments were the main reason he walked away from the game not long ago, so the fact that he's willing to consider a return in spite of that is a great sign for the struggling Lakers.
Kobe Bryant has frequently clashed with coaches throughout his Laker career—his dismissal of the recent "death stare" controversy notwithstanding—but has had raging success with Jackson at the helm.
Jackson is just what the Lakers need right now: a stable, extremely successful coach to stabilize the team and stimulate the synergy on such a talented roster. He has juggled super-sized egos his entire career and would be the perfect man for the job.