Phil Jackson sat down for an 23-minute interview with Fox Sports Live, and so you know that means he talked about everything and anything about the Lakers.
How about when Kobe Bryant returns from fractured left knee?
“If it’s somewhere in the middle of February or March, I think he’ll want to come back and get to that level again,” Jackson said. “The only way you get to that level is playing against [NBA talent]. It doesn’t happen on the playground or in the summer.” I think that he’s going to be able to perform at a high level. People are going to be surprised.”
Or the challenges Bryant will face upon his return?
“I think post-up game and screen roll is going to have to become a major part of his game. I don’t think he’s going to be able to just break [players] down [off the dribble],” Jackson said. “Defense becomes the biggest problem as you get old.”
“If it’s somewhere in the middle of February or March, I think he’ll want to come back and get to that level again,” Jackson said. “The only way you get to that level is playing against [NBA talent]. It doesn’t happen on the playground or in the summer.”
Or if Jackson will patrol the sidelines one more time and build on his 11 NBA championships?
“I’m not going to coach again,” Jackson said. “I’ve done my coaching and I think I can put that aside.”
Instead, Jackson preferred he’d like to help out the Lakers within their front office. But that apparently won’t work with vice president of player personnel Jim Buss running the show.
“They have a hierarchy. They have an administration,” he said. “They’re trying to work through some things. They made a decision to go in a different style of ball.”
Jackson didn’t question too much on being passed up for the vacant head-coaching job last year that went to Mike D’Antoni. Instead, Jackson admired Lakers late owner Jerry Buss for his decisiveness, including being proactive in drafting Magic Johnson in 1979, which led to the Showtime Era.
How about Buss’ son?
“I think Jim is kind of feeling his way. He doesn’t really know all of the ramifications of basketball,” Jackson said. “I think one of the things that Dr. Buss did, was he left a lot of basketball decisions to basketball people and then he would make the final [call].”
One of those calls Jackson disagreed happened after retiring in 2011. The Lakers hired Mike Brown over Jackson’s lead assistant Brian Shaw. Brown led the Lakers to the 2012 Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City, but he was fired five games into last season. Shaw landed his first head coaching gig this season with the Denver Nuggets.
“They should have given him the opportunity to have that job, but that’s not my decision,” Jackson said. “That’s where Jimmy Buss wanted to make that decision. I don’t know where [General Manager] Mitch [Kupchak] was behind all of that, because Mitch kind of sits behind that decision making.”
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