Lakers News: Shaquille O’Neal Says Deion Sanders Reminds Him Of Phil Jackson
Deion Sanders, Colorado, Lakers
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is underway and NBA training camp will be kicking off soon with the Los Angeles Lakers coming into the year with championship aspirations. But despite all of that, the talk of the sports world is “Coach Prime” Deion Sanders and the job he has done as the head football coach at the University of Colorado.

After doing an amazing job at HBCU Jackson State, Sanders was hired by Colorado, who went 1-11 last year. In his first season, Sanders has the Buffaloes at 3-0 after a huge win over rival Colorado State. That game saw many celebrities in attendance and many more were watching on TV, including Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal, who saw flashes of arguably the best basketball coach ever as he watched Sanders.

O’Neal says that Sanders reminded him of former Lakers coach Phil Jackson because of his calm demeanor despite Colorado being down double-digits, via TMZ Sports:

“When they were down 15, there was a camera that panned to Deion’s face, and it reminded me of Phil Jackson. And I’ve always said, if the general doesn’t panic, the troops don’t panic,” O’Neal told Babcock on the TMZ Sports TV show (full interview airs on Tuesday’s show on FS1).

Jackson was known for always being relaxed regardless of the status of the game. He rarely got too animated or argued with officials unless he felt it was absolutely necessary to defend his players and that ultimately led to him winning five NBA Championships with the Lakers.

O’Neal also noted that someone with an impressive resume like Sanders has, and like Jackson had when he came to the Lakers, it makes it easier for the players to listen and fall in line and really take in what the coach has to say:

“I know exactly what the [Colorado players] are going through because when you are standing in front of someone that has an impressive resume, and you’re trying to get to the level he get to, everything you say is golden. I felt that way when Phil Jackson first came to the Lakers,” the NBA legend explained.

“Before [Phil] got there, me and Kobe, we got swept all the time. But when he came there and stepped in the locker room and we saw he didn’t panic, so it taught us not to panic. We know that this guy knows what he’s talking about.”

For O’Neal and the Lakers that meant championships and Colorado is certainly hoping the same is the case for them with Sanders. The energy surrounding the program right now is unlike anything ever seen in college football and in O’Neal’s mind, Sanders is the best coach going right now:

“Deion right now is the best coach in college football. You heard it here first.”

Any comparison to an all-time great like Phil Jackson is a true compliment, especially coming from someone like Shaquille O’Neal. The goal for Sanders now is to mimic that success Jackson had with the Lakers and bring home a championship.

Jeanie Buss discusses state of Lakers heading into 2023-24 season

The Lakers are one of the championship favorites after an excellent offseason in which they retained key free agents while making big additions. And owner Jeanie Buss is looking forward to what this season holds.

Buss is happy with the offseason moves made and the continuity the franchise kept going into 2023-24, but also knows that the Western Conference is extremely competitive and the Lakers will have their work cut out if they plan on making a championship run.

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