Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson joined ESPNLA710′s Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson last week to discuss myriad topics, including his new book Eleven Rings, coaching Kobe Bryant and the Lakers’ offseason.
Among the several interviews Jackson has been doing, this one is focused on current Lakers items. Below is a transcription:
Q: On the motivation behind writing his book:
Jackson: Well, it’s a recap of coaching and lessons learned. One of the biggest lessons I learned as a coach was about how to deal with Kobe Bryant, my relationship with him was a big part of a learning curve for myself, and hopefully for Kobe, too, because we have a great relationship. I know airing it sometimes might seem insensitive, but it’s a personal book and I think it explains some things that are gratifying. The first chapter, obviously, details how Kobe’s growth brought together a basketball team to reform a championship, which we were able to win two, and his growth as an individual. There’s plenty of praise in there, too.
Q: On picking Bill Russell over any team to start a franchise:
Jackson: I think everybody who has gone through the process of winning championship rings, it’s an arduous thing and it takes tremendous amount of will, courage and playing through all kinds of adversity, and 11 rings are just a testament to how great this guy really was. It’s his era, it’s what he did and it’s a tribute and honor for him to have won 11 rings at a time when the league was very compact – eight or 10 teams in the league – and to be able to do that, it’s a phenomenal feat.
Q: On any direct feedback he’s received from the book from former players:
Jackson: Kobe and I have exchanged a few things. I sent him a book right away when he was bruised perhaps by some of the responses that I picked Michael as better than him. It’s not true. It’s a comparison, not better or best. I sent him a book right away, so he can read it for himself to get a taste of what it’s about. Rick Fox, we communicate back and forth. I haven’t heard from a lot of my other players with the Chicago Bulls, so I can’t comment on anybody on that end. I am going to do a live talk forum with John Salley, who was on both on a Bulls championship team in 1997-98 and a Lakers championship team in 1999-00.
Q: On what he sees his role to be right now:
Jackson: My role right now is really to support (fiance and Lakers executive) Jeanie Buss, sit back in my retirement and maybe do some mentoring. I had a conversation with the possible owner of the Seattle Supersonics and their failed efforts to secure the Sacramento franchise. That was a real interest on my part because it was a team that was going to start all over again, and move their franchise from one city to the next and I really liked Chris Hansen’s ideas as an owner as to how to elevate the game.
Q: On what he wants the future to look like for him:
Jackson: There really are no wants. There’s nothing I feel compelled to do. Obviously there’s a real diversity in the styles of basketball being played right now in the NBA as opposed to how I coached a team. Maybe the only ones that can compare are Indiana and San Antonio that are full-fledged offenses that use passing. Post up basketball used to be the trademark of the NBA game. The game has changed now. It’s dribble penetration and you see maybe one or two passes. There’s a change in styles. There’s that mentoring aspect, or being part of a larger entity.
Q: On under what scenario he would coach:
Jackson: I have no intention of coaching. I don’t have any intention of coaching. I actually used that same phrase to Mitch Kupchak back in (November) of this past year. It’s much different when all of a sudden they’re in need … The (Lakers) suddenly have a team that was composed of many players I coached and a team that is looking for an offensive system that could match what I basically used to run with two bigs in (Dwight) Howard and Pau Gasol. There was intrigue there, but I hadn’t even made up my mind to coach that team when they offered it. I was still sitting on my decision when they short-gapped it, called me up instead and said: “We think Mike D’Antoni is the right person for this team.”
Q: On if he thinks Dwight Howard will go to Houston:
Jackson: It’s an obvious choice, from the standpoint of best scenarios. (But) then you have all the other things trailing along behind you … he gave up on the Lakers, he left his team in Orlando, he didn’t see it through with the Lakers and there’s the financial issue. There’s very few players that you see are willing to forgo the financial issues for issues of best scenario for them playing wise. I think we’ve seen Tim Duncan take less money in his contract negotiation to facilitate bringing better players on, but we don’t see many players (do that) … You have, really, the draw of an agent saying this is best for financial, perhaps this is best for your scenario. The other thing is: Mike D’Antoni is a good coach. People disregard the fact he’s had success. He knows what he needs to have to put a team together. If they’re minding their P’s and Q’s over there in the organization, they’re trying to figure this out. They can have Dwight as a screen and roll guy that pounds the inside a la Amaré Stoudemire. He’ll get the ball on the move. He might not get many post ups or many decisive plays in which he’s directing the traffic from the post position, but he’s going to get more opportunities to score. In a situation where Mike comes in, he has a training camp, everything else can happen and he has more personnel around him to support his system. I think (Howard is) on the horns of a dilemma. There’s no doubt about it. He has a decision to make, and it’s going to be tough. And the Lakers have a decision to make with Pau. Is Pau perhaps the better player in a D’Antoni system than Howard would be? Even though the defense isn’t there, but is he a better offensive player because of his mobility and outside shooting? There’s other things and there’s the Lakers side of it, too. I would just like to see both players to have the best possible chance to fulfill their wishes.
Q: On what advice he’d give to Howard, or if he thinks Los Angeles is the best place for him:
Jackson: I think staying with a franchise and hanging in here, I think he likes the life here in L.A., I think he has hopes for success and the monetary issue is considerable. I have more Lakers blood in me than Houston Rockets blood for sure. At least extended family that runs this organization, I hope he remains a Laker.