Phil Jackson story

Here’s tomorrow’s story on the signing of Phil Jackson to a two-year extension:

By Rich Hammond[ep
Staff Writer[ep
Phil Jackson ultimately decided that his hips and his patience could hold up for two more seasons.[ep
Jackson extended his Hall of Fame coaching career, at least until the summer of 2010, when he accepted a two-year contract extension with the Lakers, a deal believed to be worth $12 million per year.[ep
The extension offer from owner Jerry Buss had been on the table for months but Jackson, 62, slow-played his decision and said his health, and the Lakers’ ability to be competitive, would influence his choice.[ep
Finally, in a meeting with Buss on Wednesday, Jackson agreed to stay around. Jacksons three-year contract expires next summer. It pays him $10 million per year, the most for any coach in pro sports.[ep
“I asked them to be patient until I worked my way through a couple road trips, Jackson said before Thursdays game against Denver, “until I saw if I was in a position where I could comfortably coach this team. I think that occurred a month or so into the season.[ep
“Following a couple road trips, I felt comfortable enough to make that decision.[ep
Jackson will oversee a crucial time in team history. Kobe Bryant will either stay or go, Andrew Bynum will either be a star or a flop and the Lakers will return to success or fade deeper into mediocrity.[ep
It has been difficult to get a read on Jacksons intentions. He offered a litany of factors he had to consider, most importantly his recovery from the two hip-replacement surgeries he has had in the last 13 months.[ep
On Thursday, Jackson said he wasnt certain, during the summer, whether his health would allow him to coach this season, never mind until 2010.[ep
“It was very debilitating for me, Jackson said. “Putting socks on, putting shoes on, were simple tasks that became very difficult. … Once basketball started, it was about basketball and about coaching. That probably gave me the impetus, the ability, to feel like I was going to be OK.[ep
Jackson also questioned whether he had the energy to keep up with the Lakers and whether he should coach the Lakers, with an eight-figure salary, if they werent going to be on the NBAs top teams.[ep
“Ive had some tremendous successes and some great highs in this game, Jackson said. “The ultimate thing is about this team coming back into prominence in this game. … Were trying to get back to consistency and be a team that can win on a consistent basis.[ep
If Jackson guides the Lakers to more success between now and 2010, he will burnish an already stellar coaching career that has included nine NBA championships with the Lakers and the Chicago Bulls.[ep
With a career record of 927-399 entering Thursday, Jackson had the highest winning percentage in NBA history, by a slim margin. His victory total ranks fourth among active coaches and ninth in NBA history.[ep
Jackson would seem a sure bet to become only the sixth NBA coach to win 1,000 career games.[ep
“He’s a championship coach,” Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. “He’s got a lot of insight, a lot of wisdom. His record speaks for itself.[ep
Jackson wouldnt definitively say that he will retire in 2010, at which point he will be 64, but the assumption is that this is Jacksons final contract.[ep
“Im losing a step as I go, literally, mentally and physically, Jackson said. “So to stay abreast, with all these kids, is not an easy task. I can hardly speak their language as it is, but Im trying.[ep
The Lakers immediate future. Bryant has yet to rescind his public trade demand and the Lakers have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since they reached the 2004 NBA Finals.[ep
Bryant can opt out of his contract and become a free agent after the 2008-09 season. Jackson and Bryant, who previously had a fractured relationship, have grown closer in Jacksons second stint.[ep
Jackson said the Lakers have not spoken to teams about trading Bryant since the season started.[ep
“My decision to return as coach, Jackson said, “or the decision to be asked to return as coach, both had very little to do with Kobe Bryant. … Its about the proximity that I feel to this organization.[ep