Phil Jackson Reportedly Wants to Return to NBA in Coaching or Executive Role
According to a report from ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein, Jackson, who retired as the Lakers coach after the 2010-11 season, is "itching" to make a comeback.
That doesn't necessarily mean a return to coaching, though, as Jackson is reportedly intrigued by working in an NBA front office for the first time in his career.
The legendary coach has won a record 11 NBA championships in his 20-year coaching career with the Lakers and Bulls, having never finished below the .500 mark or missed the playoffs.
That astounding record of success and his ability to handle difficult personalities—from Michael Jordan to Dennis Rodman to Kobe Bryant and more—make him a top candidate for any opening across the league.
In fact, Jackson very publicly was on the precipice of a return to the bench during the 2012-13 NBA season. When the Lakers fired Mike Brown after a 1-4 start, Los Angeles team executives made Jackson their top initial priority. He met with general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president Jim Buss about the opening and seemingly had the job if he wanted it.
However, in a surprise move the Lakers passed over Jackson in favor of Mike D'Antoni. The decision drew the ire of many Lakers fans, who later exposed their displeasure with the decision by chanting "We Want Phil" at Shaquille O'Neal's jersey retirement ceremony in April.
Jackson was also sought after for the Brooklyn Nets' opening, which eventually went to P.J. Carlesimo on an interim basis.
While it's not yet known if Carlesimo will return to Brooklyn full time, this report will undoubtedly spark the Nets' and plenty of other teams' interest. Jackson is arguably the best coach in league history, a bastion of brilliance in dealing with the modern NBA player.
By sheer virtue of his name alone, Jackson turns a middling contender into a team with NBA Finals consideration. It's questionable at 67 years old and after battling health concerns late in his coaching career whether Jackson will ultimately pull the trigger on a return. Jackson isn't the type to bite on every opportunity; it has to be the right fit.
But you can bet over the coming weeks and months plenty of NBA owners will try to convince the Zen Master their city is right for one last championship run.
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