As we approach the end of another NBA season, it’s no surprise that the LA Lakers, coached by Phil Jackson, are contending for another NBA title. When I hear that name, I think “winner”. Jackson is arguably the greatest coach in NBA history. In my opinion he is the best.
Jackson has won an NBA record nine championships, six with the Chicago Bulls, and three with his current team. This record is shared with late Boston Celtic great Red Auerbach. Jackson is the only coach in NBA history to take a team to three consecutive championships on three different occasions, (Chicago Bulls: 1991-1993; 1996-1998; LA Lakers: 2001-03). Now that’s pretty impressive! Jackson’s Chicago Bulls finished the 1995-1996 NBA season with a remarkable 72-10 record. That mark broke the 69-13 LA Lakers all-time record acheived in 1972. As a coach, Jackson has won over 70% of his games, winning over 1000 of them, including 193 of 277 career playoff games.
Now I hear people say, “Phill Jackson inherited Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls” or “Shaq and Kobe were there when he won in LA”. Okay, I hear all of that but answer this! How many championships did Jordan, Shaq, and Kobe win before Phil Jackson coached them? ZERO!!! Jordan was a seven year veteran before Jackson took over as head coach and all of a sudden Chicago won the title a year later. Shaq and Kobe had championship quality teams before Phil and still couldn’t win it. So what happened, Phil Jackson comes to LA and the Lakers won three consecutive championships. See the trend my friends? There’s no argument. Phil Jackson aka the “Zen Master” is the real deal. Name another coach who could handle Jordan’s ego or Shaq and Kobe’s bickering and still win rings?
People will even throw around the fact that Red Auerbach won 8 in a row. How is Phil better? My argument is that Auerbach coached 9 Hall of Fame players (Frank Ramsey, Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Tommy Heinsohn, Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, John Havlicek, Sam Jones, and Bailey Howell) during that run. That’s a Hall of Famer for each championship. Just imagine how many championships Jackson would have with that arsenal. So don’t try to diminish Phil’s accomplishments beacuse he had Jordan, Shaq, and Kobe.
After coming back to the Lakers for his second retirement, Jackson has revitalized the franchise. He guided an injury depleted Lakers squad to a Western Conference title and a trip to the 2008 NBA Finals. After falling short of that title, the Lakers are poised to make another championship run in 2009. The Lake Show owns the Western Conference’s best record with 15 games left and seem to be on a mission. Will Jackson get his tenth ring? I wouldn’t bet against it!
Written by Keith Madyun