Apparently Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak didn’t need to alert Phil Jackson last year in a midnight phone call that he wouldn’t become the team’s next head coach. Jackson suggests he would’ve told the Lakers the next day pretty much the same thing.
“I probably would’ve made a decision not to coach the team anyway because of my health,” Jackson told Seth Davis in an upcoming interview aired on Campusinsiders.com on Oct. 28 and Nov. 1 at 10:30 a.m. PST. “I was like, ‘It’s midnight. Let me sleep on this one.’”
Kupchak called Jackson at that time and told him that Mike D’Antoni would become the Lakers’ next head coach. Whether that’s actually the case remains debatable. Those close to Jackson at the time said his agent, Todd Musberger, planned to take a red-eye the following morning to negotiate a deal for Jackson to coach the Lakers. Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ president and Jackson’s longtime companion, wrote in her recently updated memoir strongly suggesting Jackson appeared leaning toward coaching the Lakers again after guiding them to five NBA championships in two separate stints.
Now Jackson makes it sound like his coaching days are done.
“Realistically, I’m thinking about the fact that I probably won’t be able to physically coach again,” Jackson said.
That’s not entirely true.
Jackson still coached in a different way. Rapper Kendrick Lamar released a freestyle titled “Control” that contained these lyrics: “If Phil Jackson came back, still no coachin’ me/I’m uncoachable, I’m unsociable.” Jackson then tweeted at Lamar, it’s okay to be cocky and sure, but we all need somebody to lean on. Let’s just call it mentoring.”
What propelled Jackson to share his Zen teachings with one of hip hop’s rising stars?
“The connection between basketball and rap is so deep,” Jackson said, and he sounds serious. That many of the people that tweet back and forth to me say I have to get back to Lamar.”
Jackson will still share basketball wisdom too.
Jackson will reflect on how Michael Jordan brutalized his teammates in practice. Or on how Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech reflected that his main motivation involved negativity. Or that Dwight Howard can eventually win an NBA championship even if Jackson won’t have anything to do with it.
But as far as coaching again? Apparently not, meaning Jackson could’ve avoided the Lakers’ public relations mess had he just alerted the team’s front office at midnight that he wouldn’t become the team’s next head coach.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org