LOS ANGELES (BVM) — Phil Jackson was at the head of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers dynasties. Between the two and coaching some of the greatest players to ever take the court, he is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in basketball history.
Before coaching, Phil Jackson played in the NBA from 1967 to 1980 with the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets while playing in a much gritter, rough era of basketball. He won two championships with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973 and earned a reputation as an intelligent player who had prowess on the defensive side of the ball.
After retiring in 1980, he immediately went into coaching and entered the Baloncesto Superior Nacional league in Puerto Rico in 1984 and was there until 1987. It was there that he built up his coaching abilities. He was hired as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls under head coach Doug Collins shortly after.
After Collins’ firing, Jackson took over in 1989. The implementation of the triangle offense was not initially welcomed by Michael Jordan, who was becoming one the NBA’s superstars
The new strategy would not have Jordan with the ball in his hands as much as before since Jackson’s focus was to use each of the starting five in passing the ball and throwing the defense off Jordan. After embracing the change, Jordan and the Bulls would win their first of six championships in 1991, starting the first of two three-peats that would occur in the 90s. He left the Bulls in 1998 after tensions between him and the general manager Jerry Krause boiled over to a point of no return.
In 1999, he took over the Los Angeles Lakers squad that had Shaquille O’Neal and a young Kobe Bryant. Despite having to deal with the public feuds of O’Neal and Bryant with the amplified media attention that came with being in Los Angeles, Jackson continued his success with another three-peat from 2000-2002. He brought the same triangle offense and meditation sessions in practice to bring the team together whenever off-the-court distractions were present. After being fired before the 2004 season, he returned the next year after O’Neal had been traded to the Miami Heat with other key players leaving as well. He was able to return to the top with back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, marking the longevity of his historic career. After being swept in the conference semifinals in 2011, Jackson left the Lakers.
This would mark the end of his coaching career, finishing with a 1,155-485 win-loss record and 11 championships on his resume. Coaching some of the biggest names that the NBA has ever seen, Phil Jackson is widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball due to not only his ability to win but his ability to bring players together from a variety of different backgrounds and egos to compete as a team. His impact on the game lives in history and is felt in the modern age of basketball.