Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach and 13-time NBA champion Phil Jackson is reported in frequent contact with Lakers owner, Jennie Buss. Given that he has won the NBA title 11 times as a head coach, five of them being with the Lakers, Jackson appears to be acting as a voluntary consultant to the Lakers’ problems that hit recently.
Lakers struggling in the ninth place of the Western Conference and with Jackson’s decades of experience, there could be some valuable changes in the team’s strategy. Meanwhile, Lakers superstar, LeBron James, previously had no smooth relationship with the former coach. Now, having to work together, hopefully, James and Jackson could rebuild the bond.
The Zen Master is in the building 🐐 pic.twitter.com/my55FYCKms
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 6, 2022
Phil Jackson, Lakers relationship
As per Sam Amick and Bill Oram of The Athletic, the 75-year-old has no official position with the Lakers organization. However, since Jackson has led the Lakers and won five championship games, sports fans believe that he is more than qualified to be involved.
Better yet, Jackson, who was in attendance for the Lakers’ win over the Warriors on Saturday’s game, seems comfortable with helping the franchise at the moment. But for now, it’s still “unclear if Jackson might take on any kind of formal role in the future”.
Amick and Oram also added that Jackson could be the right person to help the Lakers find a solution for Russell Westbrook.
“The complicated and often uncomfortable dynamics surrounding the Westbrook situation, in particular, are known to have drawn his interest. As unofficial consultants go, they don’t get much more experienced or credible than Jackson,” the report said.
“The dynamics surrounding the Russell Westbrook situation are known to have drawn his interest.”
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) March 7, 2022
Westbrook has been highly criticized for his declining performance and he has another year left on his contract of $47 million. It is almost certain that he will not be returning with the Lakers next season, noting that he also has a “mutual interest” to abort the Lakers.
Meanwhile, it is unclear whether King James is a fan of Jackson’s involvement. Given the history, whether James likes it or not, he just has to compromise with it, especially when Buss does not seem to have any problem with Jackson giving advice to the team.
LeBron on Jackson
Back in 2016, LeBron admitted to ESPN that he was “not a fan of Phil Jackson”. The tension started after Coach Jackson referred to James’ close friend, Carmelo Anthony, who is now team Lakers, as a “posse”.
For Jackson’s comments, James has been offended in the way Jackson was handling Anthony back when he was still with the New York Knicks.
“I think anybody would understand that (posse is an offensive word)… I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist or an educated person to understand kind of what that means to us,” LeBron said at that time.
Anthony and James both agreed that the word “posse” has a negative connotation. However, Anthony decided to cool down the situation by responding to the matter that Jackson probably did not mean what he said.
“Sometimes Phil just says things and he says the first thing that comes to mind and then probably is in his office right now regretting it. … you just never know what’s going to be said, what’s coming out. It depends on who’s listening,” Melo said.
When asked by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James admitted that he still has respect for the coach until now, but for the real deal, especially now it looks like Jackson is going to be involved in the Lakers’ organization, only time will tell.