After all the clamoring for Phil Jackson that Laker fans have done this season, this isn’t the Phil story we were expecting. But according to Kevin Ding of the OC Register (h/t Kurt Helin, NBC Pro Basketball Talk), Jackson had quite the revelation in his latest book, Eleven Rings. According to Ding, Jackson was diagnosed with prostate cancer during the team’s playoff run, and told his team in an attempt to motivate them.
Jackson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2011. After doctors assured him the cancer could be controlled by drugs temporarily, Jackson waited until after the season to undergo surgery.
Jackson decided to divulge his situation to his players when he sensed the team was lacking something in the playoffs.
“Shocking,” Pau Gasol said Saturday, remembering Jackson’s disclosure to the team. “But then you also could understand certain moments of his demeanor, energy and involvement because of what he was going through health-wise. It explained certain things. It was a shock. A difficult moment for the team.”
This is surprising news indeed, as the news hadn’t surfaced until now. As many of you probably remember, that season didn’t exactly end well for Los Angeles. After winning two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, the team was swept out of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks. As of now, that’s the last time Phil Jackson was a head coach in the NBA.
Whether or not Phil does return to coach again is yet to be seen, but the fact that he didn’t disclose his cancer diagnosis until now is a positive sign relating to his health. Obviously Jackson needed some time to conquer the illness, but with recent reports that he’s “itching” to get back into the game, we most likely haven’t seen the end of Jackson in the Association.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out Dwight Howard talking about the tough series with the Spurs!
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