Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak Calls Phil Jackson “Consultant Of Sorts”
Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss strolled in to the Vibiana in Los Angeles Wednesday night to attend a Time Warner Cable Media event, in which Jeanie would be accepting a leadership award on behalf of her father, Dr. Jerry Buss.
After several photo opportunities, Jeanie sat down outside with her fiance, Jackson, and fielded questions from reporters. The duo graciously entertained questions for about 20 minutes, mostly pertaining to if Jackson could still have a future with the Lakers organization. The Lakers Executive Vice President Of Business Operations had a clear and comforting message to Lakers fans regarding the Zen Master.
“My message to Lakers fans is that Phil is a part of the organization because of me. He is part of it. He’s part of my life and part of my family. He’s always in Laker world, no matter if he has an official position or not.”
Speaking of official positions, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak also attended the “View From The Top” media event, and casually chatted with Jeanie and Phil. When Kupchak called Jackson many months ago to let him know the Lakers organization had gone a different route, (and chosen to hire Mike D’Antoni), Jackson was just as surprised as the rest of the world. Jeanie Buss also admitted she was “disappointed” and not happy with how things happened, but Kupchak said he didn’t feel Jackson had really been phased by it. He even joked and said he thought Phil was probably more irritated by being woken up by the late night phone call, than with the nature of the call itself. Despite having not received the head coaching job with the Lakers, Kupchak then revealed that Jackson may have a lot more involvement with the Lakers than one might think.
“Quite frankly, even though he doesn’t have an official role with us, he’s a consultant of sorts. Jeanie, I’m sure, talks to him at night about basketball, I bump into him from time to time, so even though it may not be official, there is an existing relationship.
Kupchak also mentioned Phil frequents the Lakers training facility before confirming their relationship. It’s comforting to know Phil could just bump into a guy like Dwight Howard at the training facility. So, what exactly is a “consultant of sorts?” When explaining his role, Phil sounded more like a man in the Lakers front office than a trophy on Jeanie’s side.
“I’m just supporting Jeanie and the decisions that are important for the ball club to make,” Jackson said while adjusting his knees in a low wicker loveseat. “Trying to find a way to bring the team back to prominence through getting the contract resolution going, signing the people they have to sign, and finding ways so that they can be mobile enough that they can have the talent that they have to have soon.”
Finding a way to bring the team back to prominence? It sounds like Jackson is still very emotionally connected to this franchise, and for Lakers fans this is a great sign. A sign that whether or not Phil has a future official role with the Lakers, the franchise can still benefit from his wisdom. Phil even said that he’s conversed with Kupchak over the past couple weeks, “bouncing things around,” but when asked if he was giving the organization advice, he preferred to phrase it this way.
“Not so much advice….explaining the program that they’re headed towards, how they’re going down the road. Kind of resolution of some of the things that happened in the past and trying to kind of clean that up and talk about some of the things they’re trying to do in the future, that are different and are ways that they can resolve issues going ahead.”
As expected, Jackson would not comment on any specific Lakers issues, but he did say the front office reached out for assistance in those areas. Phil said he’d be willing to help in whatever areas the Lakers may need help. Lakers fans can rejoice in knowing that not only did the franchise reach out to Phil for assistance, Jackson is just a phone call away. So, how does this work? Is Phil Jackson getting paid by the Lakers for counseling? When Lakers Nation asked Jackson if the Lakers were in a sense receiving some “free counseling,” Jackson laughed and said,
“It’s not free. I’m not being paid in that regard, but it’s not free.”
Thank you, Jeanie.
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