Is Phil Jackson Actually the Best Coach in NBA History?

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Is Phil Jackson Actually the Best Coach in NBA History?
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In the brief time between the NBA Draft and the Free Agency/LeBron Bonanza, I wanted to talk about another person who's future decision may greatly affect the make up of the league for the 2010-2011 season: Phil Jackson.

Phil Jackson is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the league, and in the league's history. His winning pedigree certainly speaks for itself and is a testament to that notion. Jackson has been a coach for nineteen seasons, and during those nineteen seasons he has 19 playoff berths, 13 Finals appearances, and 11 NBA Championships!

Jackson, while noted as a great coach, has also been the benefactor of talent filled teams. During his tenures in Chicago and Los Angeles, Phil has had the luxury of five-time MVP Michael Jordan and only one-time MVP Kobe Bryant leading his teams. Having arguably the league's best player on your team certainly makes a coaching job much easier.

Given the fact that Phil has never really had a bad set of players, it begs the question: Exactly how good is Phil Jackson as a coach?

I know Jackson is the Zen Master, with his triangle offense. I know he put a sock on the cornrowed Tyronn Lue in 2001 to stimulate Allen Iverson in 2001. I know he is a great coach. But give any coach MJ or Kobe and they can lead the team to the playoffs too, right?

I would be particularly interested to see how Phil Jackson would fare as a coach of a team with much less talent than the Bulls and the Lakers over the years (Note: Bulls were Jordan-less in 93-84 but they still had HOF’er Scottie Pippen; Lakers were Kobe-less for six weeks in 99-00 but they still had Shaquille O’Neal).

No one is doubting Jackson's legacy as a coach, but to further cement his own legacy as the greatest NBA coach ever, I would love to see him come back next year with a team other than the Lakers. If he can take a less talented team – that is, a team without a superstar like a Jordan or Bryant – to the playoffs, and even to the Finals, then there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is the best ever.

For me, it is hard to find any other coach comparable to Phil Jackson, in terms of success in the NBA. Yet, a lot of what makes a coach a great coach is the ability to take an alright team and turn it into a great team. And I’m not sure Phil has had to do that at any point in his NBA coaching career.

Do you guys agree? Is it Jackson's coaching that helped make Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant who they are? Is Jackson a great coach who can win even without superstars like MJ or Kobe? Or is it Jordan and Bryant who facilitated Jackson becoming the best coach ever?


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