Not in Jackson's eyes, at least.
After being spurned by Los Angeles in favor of Mike D'Antoni, much has been made of the deteriorating relationship—if one even still exists—between the organization and the heralded coach.
Well, any doubt that Jackson felt slighted by the Lakers, as well as any hope of him ever returning to coach those who don purple and gold, has effectively been put to bed. By Jackson himself, in fact.
During a nice outside stroll with longtime girlfriend Jeanie Buss, the 11-time coaching champion provided some brief insight to TMZ Sports as to what he thought of the Lakers:
Phil Jackson says he doesn't want to return to the Lakers organization...even if they ask him...and to make things worse, Phil told TMZ he doesn't think the squad is championship material either.
Phil and his GF Jeanie Buss were out on a dinner date at Gjelina in Venice, CA last night...when we asked the Zen Master if he would be open to rejoining the team if things didn't work out with the Lakers current head coach Mike D'Antoni.
But Jackson has made it clear the door is closed...and when we asked if he thought the Lake Show still had a shot at an NBA title this year, Jackson was brutally honest.
"Brutally honest" doesn't even begin to describe Jackson's laconic sentiments.
Though he noted that the Lakers would turn things around under D'Antoni, he dispelled the notion that the team was a title contender. He also responded "no" when asked if he would ever return to coach the organization.
Does this mean anything for the Lakers?
With regard to Jackson's future—or lack thereof—in Los Angeles, it doesn't mean much.
The Zen Master's assertion that he would never again return to coach the Lakers merely confirms what we have all assumed.
Los Angeles made it abundantly clear it was ready to move on from Jackson by passing over his proven blueprint for success. After two stints, five championship rings and a slew of controversy, the Lakers' intent to move away from the Jackon-infused era once and for all had never been more obvious than it was upon D'Antoni's hiring.
Jackson's answer only furthered that notion. The Lakers are done with him, and he is done with the Lakers. Case closed.
From a tactical standpoint, however, we can now add Jackson to the long—and continuously growing—list of basketball personalities who do not believe in D'Antoni or his current team.
Sure, Jackson admitted that they'll "get it going," but he was undeniably defiant in acknowledging them as a contender.
But again, does this matter?
Not much, if at all.
Do we really expect Jackson to openly support the franchise that condemned him and the coach that helped L.A. do it?
Absolutely not, so the Lakers shouldn't be surprised. Nor should prominent doubters be a foreign concept to them. After all, they have one of the most prolific makeups in the league, yet currently sit outside of the Western Conference's playoff picture.
So no, Jackson's affirmation that he will never coach the Lakers again and his nonexistent faith in them to contend doesn't mean the sky is falling any faster in Tinseltown.
All it means is that the Lakers now have one more critic who doesn't believe—one more cynic they must attempt to prove mistaken.
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