Nearly a week after Phil Jackson won his record 11th NBA coaching championship, he revealed that Game 7 against Boston may have been his last as coach of the Lakers.
“I’m leaning towards retiring but I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he said.
In his season-ending interview with the press after completing all but one of the organization’s exit interviews with players, Jackson said that he’d make a final decision by the end of next week.
Here’s a summary of his comments:
- (On reasons to retire): “Some of it is about health. That’s just the way I’m feeling right now. It’s just something I’m going to sit with.”
- (On the team being set up to win again): “This team is in a good place to (win again). If I’m not here, someone else is going to come in and do the job.”
- (On the meetings with his players): “It’s always fun to have an exit meeting when you’re the final team standing. Those meetings went great. I’m very grateful to these players. They put a lot of energy in. The fans gave them a great feeling and a wonderful parade.”
- Jackson said part of the decision is about what he wants to do and how he wants to live the remaining years of his life, and some of that has to do with the physical toll an NBA season takes on his body.
- (On if he’d coach anywhere else): “I’m not going to rule that out … I can’t say I’d never coach again.”
- (On what he’d do if not coaching): “I don’t know. Write a book, go on a grand lecture tour, those are things people tell me I should think about doing. Of course it’s something I’d consider. But I think I have some things to lend to this game without doing the extensive travel and things I have to do to coach … I’ll wait and see what those opportunities would be.”
- (On if it’s harder to leave a team in place to win again): “I think it’s actually easier to leave (a team that’s in tact). I’d be happy if they could go on and win without me. I think they have enough leadership on the floor and in the coaching staff.”
- Jackson mentioned throughout the season that one thing that would likely encourage him to retire would be if his players were no longer receiving his message. His comments on the topic: “To be a coach you have to be very strong willed … (because the players by nature are very strong willed, that’s how they got there). It’s always constantly working with them where they’re not only in line but also pulling together. It’s one of the things that makes coaching a great thing to do. It gives you a lot of satisfaction. This group … there were guys that were contentious. To get them in line and stay in line, the leadership of Kobe and Derek helped out a lot and my staff was very good. We have six or seven guys that were out there without contracts looking for extended carers in the NBA and sometimes that breaks through the team spirit, but fortunately enough, we were able to keep that going in the right direction.”
- Jackson said he has to sit on it and do what’s best for himself. He’s not sure if he’s 95 percent certain or 50 percent certain that he will officially retire. It’s just how he feels today.
- (Not about $$): “It’s certainly not about money. They do a tremendous job, the staff and support staff that we have.”
- Phil mentioned how much greater a toll going on long playoff runs can take on teams and a coach. One of the things that has helped him bridge the gap between seasons is his lake home in Montana. He noted that other coaches have other ways to get away, such as Boston’s Doc Rivers playing golf.
- If Phil does retire, he said it’s the organization’s decision regarding how to replace him, though he would offer his opinion.
- Phil said that his kids have been hoping he’d retire for the last couple of seasons. He added that it’d be tough to walk away from another three-peat, which remains as the “fly in the ointment” for him to retire.
- Jackson concluded by saying that he’s essentially on a course to retirement, but if something changes his mind in the next week, he’ll be happy to return.