Two weeks after leading the Lakers to a second consecutive NBA championship, Phil Jackson announced today he would return to try to coach the team to a third straight title. He also said it would be his final season as the Lakers’ coach.
“Count me in,” Jackson said in a statement. “After a couple of weeks of deliberation, it is time to get back to the challenge of putting together another team that can defend its title in the 2010-11 season.It will be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one.”
Jackson said before leaving for his summer home in Montana last week that he was “leaning toward retiring,” but reversed course after receiving a clean bill of health from his doctors. Jackson, 64, has had both hips replaced in recent seasons and this season wore a brace on his sore left knee. He also had heart issues several years ago.
“We’re extremely pleased that Phil has decided to return,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said of the Hall of Fame coach. “With this most recent championship, we’ve now won five titles in the 10 years he’s been our head coach and have been to the Finals in seven of those 10 years, which is amazing. He’s not only the best coach for this team, but quite simply the best coach in the history of the NBA.”
Jackson has won a league-record 11 titles as a coach, including six with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. He also was a member of two championship teams as a player with the New York Knicks in the 1970s. His .705 winning percentage as a coach is the best in league history as are his 225 playoff victories.