The Chase for 12 NBA Titles Should Ensure Phil Jackson's Return, Right?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJune 24, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Yesterday Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson gave his strongest indication yet that he was leaning towards retirement, but excuse me if I sound a little skeptical about his comments.

Jackson told reporters he was waiting on a battery of test results to gauge his physical health, and he would let the Lakers know next week what his intentions are regarding next season.

During the course of conversation, Jackson repeatedly mentioned how special the opportunity to win 12 NBA titles would be, not to mention the chance for a remarkable four separate three-peats.

To be honest, Jackson already owns every NBA coaching record imaginable, from most wins in the playoffs to 11 NBA championships, which is two more than his closest competitor. So it's understandable if Jackson decided to hang up his clipboard.

However, what's inconceivable is to think he would with the chance to etch his name into legend with two different franchises.

Jackson will already be recognized as the greatest coach who ever lived, but to win 12 championships spilt evenly between the Chicago Bulls and Lakers would thrust Jackson into another atmosphere.

Some Jackson detractors will say he won those titles because of the enormous talent he commanded, headlined by Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, but it was still up to Jackson to mesh all of his diverse personalities.

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Bryant has said the Lakers would be a dramatically different team without Jackson on the sidelines, and I tend to agree, but the difference will be in the attitudes of the players, more than anything else.

Jackson brings an element of calmness to the Lakers, and it has been his nonchalant attitude and steady demeanor which mattered the most to his team in the late stages of close games.

If Jackson were to depart this year, then the two main candidates to replace him seem to be Brian Shaw and Byron Scott, two ex-Lakers with plenty of championship experience of their own.

Scott was always one of my favorite Lakers, but if I had a choice Shaw would be my coach of preference simply because he has coached under Jackson, and would more than likely stick to his strategies.

Scott would have his own ideas as to the direction the Lakers should take, and Shaw would too, except Shaw's direction would mirror Jackson's in scheme and philosophy.

It's a formula the Lakers have had success with, and it fits the make-up of the roster better than anything Scott would try to implement if he were given the reins of the team.

But, I digress, because even if the media and pundits are convinced Jackson has coached his last game in Los Angeles, I'm not so sure as the call of immortality is hard to ignore.

Maybe Jackson just needs a little rest and relaxation, and a chance to recover from the tedium of an 82 game regular season, and the marathon postseason which follows it.

Jackson has flirted with indecisiveness before, but not with the opportunity to accomplish what a 12th NBA championship would bring to his already distinguished legacy.

This Lakers' team seems like a pretty safe bet to garner Jackson his fourth three-peat, barring unforeseen circumstances, and the chance to achieve that rare feat will be the deciding factor in Jackson's decision next week.