Legendary coach Phil Jackson recently ended a considerable lull in his professional career. He left the Los Angeles Lakers' bench following their season-ending loss to the Dallas Mavericks in May 2011 and didn't hold an official position until he was announced as the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
So what was an eclectic, fabulously wealthy man like Jackson doing in the interim? Climbing the Great Wall of China? Swimming with great white sharks? Drinking yak butter tea with the Dalai Lama?
As it turns out, Jackson wasn't doing anything nearly that exciting. Lakers governor (and Jackson's fiancee) Jeanie Buss discussed the Knicks' courting of Jackson on ESPNLA 710 Radio and revealed that the 68-year-old coach was engaging in typical old-man activities when New York came a-calling.
Per LakersNation's Serena Winters:
CLASSIC image. Jeanie Buss: "I'd come home. [Phil] literally was in a rocking chair, playing solitaire on his iPad." (on @ESPNLA710)— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 20, 2014
Jeanie said Phil has a "custom-made, big gigantic tall rocking chair! He loves that chair!"— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 20, 2014
Good for you, Mr. Jackson. Everybody over the age of 50 should have their own, custom-built rocking chair. I've got to be honest: I'm less than half Jackson's age, and that chair sounds like heaven to me.
Of course, Jackson doesn't fit the physical profile of your garden-variety senior citizen. He is a 6'8" former power forward who played 12 seasons in the rough-and-tumble NBA of the '60s and '70s. The wear and tear on his body forced Jackson to undergo knee replacement surgery in March 2012, per Sports Illustrated's .
It was those health issues that drove Jackson out of the coaching profession and into the front office. He was an adviser for the Detroit Pistons during the summer of 2013 before accepting the position to head the Knicks.
But don't think that Jackson has been spending all of his time playing solitaire. Scott Cacciola of The New York Times wrote an interesting piece about Knicks owner James Dolan, general manager Steve Mills and Jackson riding ATVs during a March 2 get-together near Palm Springs, Calif.:
A desperate search for solutions had taken Mr. Dolan into the desert, where he was joined by Steve Mills, then the team’s president and general manager; a guide; and a fourth member of their party, who was suddenly missing. One minute, they were zigzagging over dusty trails in their ATVs. Then, Mr. Dolan looked back. No one was there. “We lost Phil,” he said.
Phil Jackson, the celebrated coach and famed free spirit, had taken his own path.
Now that's the Jackson we all know and love. He may be an old man, he may be untested when it comes to building a roster, but he will certainly do things his way. It's the only way he knows.