After a decade-long courtship, coaching legend Phil Jackson and the daughter of the Los Angeles Lakers owner and team executive, Jeanie Buss, are engaged.
I offer my congratulations to the happy couple, but I'm not here to just comment on the engagement. I need to figure out what it all means.
So, when it comes to the Zen Master, the most pertinent aspect is how it affects his coaching status. Phil stepped away from coaching two seasons ago, but the 67-year-old remains a popular topic when speculating about coaching jobs.
He certainly has not ruled out the possibility of returning. He was reportedly prepared to return to the Lakers earlier this season after Mike Brown was fired. As it turns out, the Lakers surprised Phil and went with Mike D'Antoni.
Not long after, Phil was engaged, and by all accounts, the decision to make the switch in relationship status came from Jackson. Check out the tweet announcing the engagement by Jeanie Buss.
Twitter family - Phil finally gave me that ring I wanted!:-) twitpic.com/bs8xc5— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) January 4, 2013
I wonder if Phil contemplated trying to pass off one of the 11 championship rings he won as a coach as an engagement ring? I'm also thinking that the jeweler had a hard time impressing the ring-spoiled Jackson.
Back to the point at hand, and that is Phil had a change of heart about this marriage thing.
In an article published in Jan. 2011 article, Forbes' Jenna Goudreau passes along a quote from Jeanie that highlights how Phil's thinking was on this matter.
I wanted to get married. That’s who I am. Phil is of a generation that probably would have been happier never getting married. He just doesn't want to get married again; it’s not that he doesn’t want to marry me.
Given that Phil has changed his mind on the subject, it is fair to speculate that something altered his thinking, and it is hard not to take this as a statement that Phil is ready to put coaching behind him.
Given the Lakers' decision not to bring back Phil with their latest coaching hire, it seems highly unlikely that the Zen Master will ever be back leading the Purple and Gold. It was not long after that realization hit, that Phil and Jeanie turned up engaged.
Now, this could have nothing to do with Phil's change of heart, but the timing is curious. Would he really want to take the step he had been reluctant to take if he was contemplating beginning a gig with a new team that is in a different city and organization than the one his wife works for?
It is the mystic Phil Jackson we are talking about, so anything is possible, but it is more likely that Phil is just getting ready to start shaping his retirement.