Love him or hate him Phil Jackson is one of the greatest coaches in the history of professional sports, but you already knew that. But what separates Jackson from most if not all NBA coaches is his players ability to play their best when it counts the most.
I am not just talking about the Michael Jordans and Kobe Bryants of the world; they are all-time greats, you expect them to always perform on a high level.
It's the role players who have thrived under Jackson; case in point.
1991. Everyone remembers Michael Jordan taken the torch from Magic Johnson, but what people forget is during that Finals Jordan averaged over 11 asp; many of those passes going to John Paxson who shot La's lights out during that series.
1992. In the clinching game six against the Portland Trailblazers the Bulls entered the fourth quarter trailing by double digits it was Bobby Hansen who ignited a fourth quarter rally and win.
1993. Again in a clinching situation against Phoenix in game six, John Paxson knocks down a game winning three pointer to give Chicago the championship.
1994. With Scottie Pippen steaming because of Jackson using him as a decoy, Toni Kukoc beats the Knicks with a buzzerbeater in game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
1996. There was no particular moment for a Bulls role player because they were so dominant that season but Ron Harper's defense and timely three point shooting helped take the pressure of Michael and Scottie, and this was during a time when many thought Harper was done.
1997. In game six of the NBA Finals Steve Kerr knocks down the game winning jumper that clinched the Bulls fifth championship.
2000. In game seven of the Western Conference Finals Brian Shaw knocks down a couple of big threes that would help propel the Lakers to their record game seven comeback against the Portland Trailblazers.
2001. In game three of the NBA Finals the Lakers were clinging to a small lead when Robert Horry knocks down a corner three to put the game away.
2002. Robert Horry's greatest hits would continue in the 02 playoffs, first he knocked Portland out of the first round with a game winning three and he saved the Lakers season with a game winning three pointer in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the Kings. That shot tied the series at two and would go on to win in seven.
2004. Derek Fisher makes one of the most dramatic shots in NBA history with .4 seconds left he beats the Spurs in game five of the Western Conference Semifinals.
2009. Derek Fisher again comes up big with two clutch three point shots that put the Orlando Magic away in game four of this year's NBA Finals. The first one sent the game into overtime.
So there you have it, Jackson's genius is more than just dealing with major superstars with big egos, it is getting average to pretty good players to play at the highest level when everything is on the line.