Phil Jackson Takes over the World...Because He Can
Phil Jackson's new book Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success is on shelves now, and we know that because Jackson has appeared on every television and radio show of merit in the past week, and every step he's taken has been documented.
And he remains the hottest free-agent basketball mind. Whether he's looking to become a consultant, a general manager, president, head coach, part owner, mascot, cheerleader or popcorn salesman, Jackson could join any team in the NBA.
Over the course of the past week, Jackson has revealed just that. Not only that there are job offers, but there are offers that would let Jackson come in and do whatever he wanted.
One of the coolest and perhaps least appreciated Jackson-related media to be released this week has to be the New York Times Magazine release of Sam Anderson's "The Rembrandt of Basketball."
It wasn't specifically about Jackson's book, but it was probably the coolest release of the week.
Anderson wrote about the beauty in the seemingly precise yet abstract plays that Jackson drew up over the course of his career, even publishing a handful of old plays along the way.
From that we got to see the final two plays that Jackson drew out for the 1998 NBA Finals: Jordan's layup, and the final shot of his career with the Bulls.
Jackson has been talking about his book for months now, but his book tour really kicked off about a week ago when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which could only be described as a bombshell-dropping 10 minutes.
It was one of the first times that he publicly rehashed the debacle that went down when he was asked if he wanted to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. He talked a little Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant and he told Leno that he would have been interested in working in Seattle had the Sacramento Kings been moved.
In essence, it was the perfect kickoff point for Jackson.
Leno's interview was lighthearted and fun, Adam Sandler chiming in every once in a while with a quip here and there.
While there was no huge bombshell from his appearance on Leno, it was the first time that he publicly spoke about not getting the Lakers coaching job.
A few days later, ESPN got its hands on an excerpt from the new book. The biggest piece of information dropped in that case was Jackson's dream about spanking Kobe and smacking Shaq.
I wasn't pleased with the meeting. I worried that having everyone's complaints on the table without any resolution would have a negative effect on team harmony. In the days that followed, we lost four out of five games, including a 105-81 "massacre" by the Spurs in the Alamodome. One night that week I had a dream about spanking Kobe and giving Shaq a smack. "Shaq needs and Kobe wants -- the mystery of the Lakers," I wrote in my journal.
He could have stopped there and countless people would have been ready to go out and buy the book upon its release, but he kept things going with a huge Tuesday following the release of his book.
Jackson seemingly started things off with a long, soul-baring interview with Dan Patrick that was essentially the exact opposite of his interview with Leno.
Patrick went deep into the Michael vs. Kobe debate, and not in a way that ever hinted toward the two even being equivalents, just that the two were similarly minded players coached by one of the greatest basketball minds of all time.
It really is one of the best interviews you could hear with Jackson. I would definitely suggest checking it out in its entirety (it's about a half-hour chat between the two).
Jackson gets into the psyche of both Jordan and Kobe, talks a bit about music with Patrick and admits that he was most intrigued by job offers from the Brooklyn Nets and the nonexistent Seattle Supersonics.
From there he went on to sit down with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, scooping up the eyes that likely wouldn't have caught him on Leno.
With Stewart, Jackson was similarly adamant that he was done coaching in the NBA, a sentiment that he echoed all week long.
Finally, Jackson took to the ESPN side of the radio with an appearance on Mike and Mike in the Morning, going through everything yet again.
After a week of appearances, there wasn't much new to be heard, but there was an additional quote regarding the Lakers passing on him as their head coach this past season.
Jackson talked about how he reacted when Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak informed him that Mike D'Antoni was given the job instead: "I laughed. It was humorous to me when Mitch said that we think that Mike is a better coach for this group of guys."
It took barely more than five days, but Jackson ran the gamut. He appealed to the old folks slowly nodding off to Leno, picked up some love from the younger bunch on The Daily Show and then grabbed a bit of love from the ESPN fans and non-ESPN fans alike with appearances on Mike and Mike and The Dan Patrick Show.
I think the only thing he missed was a drop-in on The Price is Right and a bit of a jig on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The old fellow is going to more or less finish things off on May 23 with a discussion in Chicago where he'll sign a few copies of his new book and talk with Chicago Tribune writer K.C. Johnson.
More than anything, this shows just how important Jackson is to basketball over the course of the past 25 years.
It's not just that he's coached four of the 25 best players in the history of the game in that time (although that certainly helps), or that he's racked up 11 rings along the way (ditto).
Instead, it seems that he's so interesting because of his vast knowledge of an athlete's mentality.
Put aside everything else and you've still got a man who can talk about how relationships impact people who are in close proximity on a day-to-day basis.
There are few people in the world, let alone the NBA, who are anywhere near as interesting as Jackson.
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