Jackson is not just a coach. He’s a career savior.
He has coached great players that had great individual careers, but who were missing a championship on their résumé.
The following players struggled in the playoffs in Jackson's absence.
Before Jackson became his coach, Michael Jordan struggled greatly during the regular season and playoffs.
In his five seasons before Jackson came, he had three losing seasons, one 50-win season, and one Conference Finals appearance.
During Jackson’s second season as the Bulls coach, Jordan won his first NBA championship.
Before Jackson, Jordan was just a great player with great stats on a team that was always eliminated in the playoffs.
By the time Jackson left the Bulls in 1998, Jordan was a six-time NBA Champion and a six-time Finals MVP.
Shaquille O’Neal was a beast during the regular season, but his team always failed in the playoffs.
Before Jackson became his coach, O’Neal had only tasted defeat, just like Jordan did.
His team was swept five times in the playoffs and they reached the NBA Finals one time (1995).
With Jackson as his coach, O’Neal was never swept in the playoffs. Instead, his team swept their opponents five times.
By the time Jackson left the team in 2004, O’Neal was a three-time NBA Champion and a three-time Finals MVP.
“It was something I needed in my life. I was sort of a great player that didn’t have any championships. Ever since I met Phil, I have three.” O’Neal said.
O’Neal’s story could be applied to Kobe Bryant as well, because they were teammates.
But Bryant’s role as a player changed when O’Neal left the team in 2004. The problem was that Jackson also left the team in 2004.
During 2004-05, Bryant struggled without Jackson and O’Neal. And for the first time in his career, his team had a losing season (34-48) and missed the playoffs.
Bryant was in a need of help and that’s when Jackson, the career savior, returned to the team.
When Jackson returned for the 2005-06 season, the Lakers were back in the playoffs with a winning record (45-37).
In just three seasons, the Lakers were back in the NBA Finals. And in the following season (2008-09), they were champions again.
Since Jackson’s return to the team in 2005, Bryant is a two-time NBA Champion and a two-time Finals MVP.
Scottie Pippen, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest are some of the other players that have experienced a championship for the first time thanks to Jackson’s abilities as a coach.
Jackson is a career savior. He takes a player and turns him into a champion.