After Phil Jackson officially stepped down as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers there was plenty of talk about the 11-time NBA champion not being able to see eye-to-eye with Lakers Executive VP Jim Buss. With Buss wanting to run the Lakers organization a certain way and Jackson knowing how to win championships with his style of coaching, it was rumored that the two never really got along or wanted to work together.
The Zen Master talked about the progression of All-Star center Andrew Bynum’s game under Buss and how it disrupted the team’s “symmetry” in an interview with HBO’s Real Sports via James Park of SheridanHoops.com:
“Jim saw Andrew as a kid and thought Bynum was going to be a great pick for our team. But in the process I think he’s wanted to have Andrew to have a bigger and bigger role, and I think he’s hired his coach to have Andrew have a bigger and bigger role. And that kind of disjointed the symmetry of what the Lakers were really about this last year. Andrew is an All-Star Center and he did a wonderful job. But what happened was it took Pau out of his game and it took the team away from some of their game. So they changed the style dramatically.”
Even with the calm and cool demeanor that Jackson displays in his interviews, when talking about his time with the Lakers, it becomes more and more clear that arguably the greatest NBA head coach of all-time was pushed out of Los Angeles due to a conflict of how the team should’ve been run moving forward.
With Buss wanting to establish a presence in the Lakers’ front office in order to mold the team of the future in Los Angeles, Jackson was no longer in the long-term plans. It remains a mystery whether or not Jackson might have been able to turn this team around once again if given the power to do so in his last two seasons with the Lakers.
It hard to argue with Jackson’s opinion on Bynum’s new role and how it may have hurt the Lakers’ chances of functioning as a championship-caliber team during the 2011-12 NBA season. Despite the symmetry being out of sync last year, the Lakers must move on with Buss running the show.
Hopefully, for the sake of Lakers fans and Kobe Bryant, the team can come together next season under Mike Brown with Buss calling the shots in order to become NBA title contenders once again.