The majority of fans of the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t pleased back in 2012 when the choice was made to go with Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson as the team’s head coach. Many didn’t understand the logic in the decision, especially with Jackson willing to return for another stint in Los Angeles.
As if passing on bringing back Jackson in a coaching capacity wasn’t enough to rub fans the wrong way, the former Lakers and Chicago Bulls head coach left town to become the president of the New York Knicks.
Recently, Jeanie Buss, Jackson’s fiance and Lakers president, reiterated that there was simply no position for him within the Lakers organization in an interview with Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
I can understand where Phil would be a disruption,” Jeanie Buss said. “I asked my brother if Phil could have any role in the organization. He and Mitch made it clear they didn’t need Phil, nor did they need anybody else. They felt they have everything covered and didn’t need another voice in their vision and plan for this team.”
With Jackson now in New York for the foreseeable future, one can only wonder how things may have panned out in Los Angeles had he returned as head coach. Although Jackson has had no success thus far in his new endeavor with the Knicks, his presence is enough to provide hope for the future in New York.
Jackson is arguably the greatest NBA coach of all time with 11 titles to his credit. No other coach in league history has had the impact or ability to manage egos in the locker room than Jackson.
Although we’ll never know how things would’ve changed with Jackson at the helm back in 2012, it’d be safe to assume things could be much different today. Even a front office position with his insight as an advisor may have helped the team head in a better direction, but Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak feel like they’ve got it handled.
It’ll be interesting to see if Buss and Kupchak truly do have a handle on things heading into arguably one of the most important off-seasons in team history.