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If you hear a player on the Los Angeles Lakers speak, they are likely singing the praises of new coach Mike D'Antoni.
Still, the Phil Jackson gorilla in the room won't be going away anytime soon. From now until the moment D'Antoni hoists a championship (if that day ever comes), he'll be known by some Lakers fans as "not Phil."
Obviously, that's unfair. It doesn't make it any less true, nor does it take away the fact that even some players desperately wanted Jackson to come back—particularly Kobe Bryant. According to Mark Medina and Elliott Teaford of the Long Beach Press Telegram, Bryant campaigned to get his former coach back to Los Angeles:
Once Bryant learned [Jackson] was in the mix, though, he campaigned hard.
He relished the "We Want Phil" chants showering down from the Lakers fans at Staples Center. Bryant glowingly sang his praises in news conferences.
In just about every sense imaginable, this was expected. Jackson is the only coach Bryant has truly respected at the professional level and a guy that was vital to Mamba's five championship rings.
That doesn't mean he was against hiring D'Antoni in any way, shape or form. But when Jackson is available, he automatically becomes the first choice of just about anyone involved with basketball. You know, unless your name is Jim Buss.