In the aftermath of the Los Angeles Lakers hiring Mike D’Antoni instead of Phil Jackson, the 11-time NBA champion has released the following statement via Dave McMenamin of EPSNLosAngeles.com:
“Saturday morning, Jim Buss, called to ask if he could come and visit,” Jackson said in a prepared statement released on Monday evening.
“I did not solicit or ask for the opportunity, but I welcomed both he and Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as the head coach. We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a hand shake and an understanding that I would have until Monday (today) to come back to them with my decision.
“I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight on Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a 3-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team.
“The decision is of course theirs to make.
“I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker Fans who endorsed my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.”
Obviously, Jackson was taken by surprise that the Lakers’ brass chose to go with D’Antoni after a decision from the Hall of Fame head coach was set to be made on Monday.
All signs led to the hiring of Jackson for a third stint in Los Angeles. It appeared to beonly a matter of time before the announcement was made concerning the Lakers hiring Jackson for a third time. The players were all for the idea of Jackson’s return and former members of the Zen Master’s coaching staff were prepared to join him as well.
Unfortunately for Jackson and all the Lakers fans anxiously awaiting his return, the storied NBA franchise decided to go in another direction with D’Antoni. Although D’Antoni may ultimately be the better choice with his style of offense, the team choosing him over Jackson will haunt the Lakers’ brass if the team continues to fail to live up to expectations.