Phil Jackson chooses Bill Russell over Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant as greatest

Ask and you shall receive.

That’s become the theme behind Phil Jackson’s week-long media tour promoting his book, “Eleven Rings.”

Jackson has answered countless times that he’s not interested in coaching and wants a front office role. He hasn’t shied away from declaring Michael Jordan better than Kobe Bryant, though Jackson offered effusive praise for both stars. Jackson has still tweaked the Lakers for hiring Mike D’Antoni over him.

So it should hardly be surprising hearing Jackson’s take on which player he’d choose of any NBA era to start a team.

“In my estimation, the guy that has to be there would be Bill Russell. He has won 11 championships as a player,” Jackson told Time magazine. “I think that’s really the idea of what excellence is, when you win championships.”

Russell’s greatness goes beyond his championships, of course. He was considered one of the NBA’s best defenders. Russell did so while exhibiting toughness to his opponents and encouragement to his teammates.

But what if Jackson had to choose between Jordan and Bryant?

“I would flip a coin and whichever one came up heads or tails, I’d take that person,” Jackson said. “They were that good.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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