With professional sports remaining at a standstill for the time being, much of the sports world has been locked in to ESPN’s documentary on the 1998 Chicago Bulls entitled ‘The Last Dance.’
A recent episode focused on Bulls head coach Phil Jackson who coached the team from 1989-1998 and eventually took over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999.
Jackson would lead the Bulls to six total championships in his time there before going to the Lakers and winning five more. His 11 championships are the most by a coach in NBA history and many consider him the greatest one in league history and possibly in all of American professional sports. That includes the current Lakers head coach.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel spoke with Ramona Shelburne of ESPN about Jackson, saying that he considers him the greatest NBA head coach ever:
“I’ve always studied and admired his approach,” Vogel said. “I consider him the GOAT of NBA coaches.”
Vogel would delve deeper into what he admires about Jackson, noting that he grew up in the era where head coaches were constantly yelling and screaming at players, but the latter was completely different:
“I was raised in the Bobby Knight era of coaches,” Vogel said. “You know, MF-this. MF-that. And Phil never did that. I just felt like his approach was — and I’m by no means a Zen guy — but the calm mental adjustment is something that I try to always carry with any conflict or any adversity my team faces.
“I always admired that approach, letting guys play in. Not bailing teams with timeouts, letting them play through things, figure things out themselves.”
Jackson’s calmness in the heat of battle was always one of his biggest calling cards. While he could certainly chew out players or officials when it was necessary, he remained calm for the most part and always tried to empower his players. He brought a different mindset and viewpoint to many players, preaching meditation and giving them books to read that would make them not just better players, but better people.
Vogel has been a good combination of calm, but fiery when he needs to be with this Lakers team. With so many veterans, it is a delicate balance in holding them accountable, being stern but not overbearing. Jackson’s influence on today’s head coaches is apparent and Vogel has done well in applying some of those principles with Jackson’s former team.