While the Los Angeles Lakers transition towards their new era of basketball, revelations regarding previous championship teams provide insight into their thought process. During the era of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, head coach Phil Jackson had plenty of aspects to examine.
Perhaps the greatest 1-2 punch in NBA history displayed many timeless efforts on the basketball court. The duo captured three championship titles during a dominant era of basketball.
The duo had their ups and downs, but understood that winning was the goal, taking precedence over any petty arguments. During their first few seasons together, the duo was still adjusting to each other’s style of play. Bryant had yet to emerge into the star he would become, while O’Neal remained a physical specimen in the post.
When Jackson was brought in during the 1999 season, he brought forth the championship experience that would garner respect. The head coach instilled different methods to create bonding amongst the team, including his famous meditation sessions using sage.
Jackson sat down for an interview with O’Neals podcast, called ‘The Big Podcast With Shaq’. During their joking banter, Jackson admitted the effect O’Neal had on him and what it signified:
“To have a chance to coach him, with the Los Angeles Lakers, was one of the high points of my career.”
Jackson also hinted at the origins of his relationship with O’Neal during the interview. The pair met before their tenure with the Lakers, while O’Neal emerged into a superstar with the Orlando Magic.
After competing against each other for upwards of four seasons, a mutual respect formed between the pair. During many occasions, O’Neal stated that Jackson was the first coach he respected in the NBA. After providing a winning culture with the Bulls, he made a strong enough presentation of success to convince O’Neal.
O’Neal would go on to win his lone league MVP award under Jackson, while the winning accolades completed their actual desires.
The Lakers obtained perhaps the greatest postseason run in NBA history, going 15-1 during their 2000-01 championship run. Many basketball aficionados hinted at perfection for that team, which ran the triangle system fluidly and had quite the chemistry.
Their Game 1 loss during the NBA Finals halted the team and their quest of perfection. The Lakers would then win four consecutive contests, ending the Philadelphia 76ers lone finals appearance during the Allen Iverson era.
Jackson has fulfilled quite the coaching resume during his professional career. While coaching NBA legends such as O’Neal, Bryant, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan, he also has the most NBA titles as a coach, with his 11 championship rings.
The former player has now ventured into the front office realm of the NBA, currently residing as the president of the New York Knicks.