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End Of the Zen? Phil Jackson's Decision Looms Large Over Los Angeles Lakers

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IApril 1, 2010

PHOENIX - MARCH 12:  Head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 12, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Lakers defeated the Suns 102-96.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In terms of winning NBA championships, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has had more career success in the city of Chicago, but he could not be a better fit for the bright lights of Hollywood and all the drama it entails.

Jackson's laid-back nature and cynical attitude are a perfect fit for his talented team of dysfunctional players, and even better when considering how much he has done for the Los Angeles media.

He has no fear of taking digs at his team, officials, or the league in general, but you have to listen closely because his responses are always cloaked in subtlety, and that's what makes him such a media darling.

Finding out exactly what Jackson meant while giving a statement is part of his brilliance, and that same ambiguity carries over to his role as coach of one of the NBA's most successful franchises.

No one ever knows what is going on in the head of Jackson, and some of his decisions regarding the utilization of his roster are perplexing to Laker fans, but it's hard to argue the results.

It can be debated, but by all means, Jackson is the most successful coach to ever roam a NBA sideline and he has ten championships and the most playoff wins in NBA history to prove it.

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Jackson is very cerebral, so it is no surprise he took Tex Winter's idea for the triangle offense and transformed it into one of the most intricate and dominant schemes the NBA has ever seen.

Most observers don't understand it, and the main reason is because it's more of a philosophy than a set formation, and it takes advantage of every player's ability on the court.

Of course the triangle takes a superior player to make it work, one who is capable of adjusting according to the circumstances, and taking a game over from any point on the court, and Jackson has had two of the very best.

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have made Jackson's life as a coach a lot less stressful, even if he has had to deal with their dominant personalities, and over-bearing manners.

Jordan and Bryant are arguably the two greatest shooting guards the game has ever seen, and their competitive natures are probably still unmatched to this day.

The depth of their talent transcends basketball's normal scale, and there is no question Jackson is cognizant of the fact he was blessed with two of the game's best talents at his disposal.

This has been a point of criticism for Jackson because his detractors often point out that he was given two teams who were on the cusp of winning championships anyway.

There may be some truth in that line of thought, but there is no question that Jackson's personality and demeanor are imprinted all over his teams, and regardless of what anyone says, you still have to win the games.

Jackson has handled that part better than anyone, but to the dismay of many, his time in Los Angeles may soon be coming to an end, and the prospect of a Jackson-less future is troubling.

Jackson has said he would be compelled to stay another season if the Lakers were to win this season's championship, in order to keep his streak of three-peats alive, but what if Los Angeles is unsuccessful?

He's not under contract for next season, so it is conceivable he could bolt if the Lakers fail to win a title this year, and that would throw the franchise into disarray.

Los Angeles has a title window of three or four years, but that perspective is changed if Jackson isn't around to keep all of his team's quirky personalities in check and their attitudes balanced.

I can picture the team imploding without Jackson.

There is not another coach that comes to mind when thinking about an authority figure for such a diverse band of characters.

The Lakers are a good team, but Jackson's oversight makes them great, and if he should choose to leave, Los Angeles will face a subsequent drop in their stature.

Los Angeles will still be a superior team because of their talent, but Jackson brings a cohesive element which will be difficult to replace, and his larger than life persona which will be impossible to replace.

Jackson fits with the city and is treated like a rock star, and has reciprocated the love by guiding the Lakers to four championships and six NBA Finals appearances during his tenure.  But what happens when the music stops?

It's not an easy idea to process, and hopefully Jackson will eventually realize that being head coach for Hollywood's favorite team is a role that was scripted specifically for him.

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