Phil Jackson: Stranger Than Fiction
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson draws up a play against the Chicago Bulls during the second quarter at the United Center in Chicago on December 15, 2009. The Lakers won 96-87. UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

The year was 1987. In the city of Chicago there was a buzz surrounding a budding superstar named Michael Jordan. He had all the tools and talent to be the best player in the league, but had so far floundered in the NBA playoffs. It was around that time when one of the most remarkably uninteresting hires was made.

The Chicago Bulls hired a 43 year-old, former player, as an assistant to help the often overwhelmed head coach, Doug Collins. The assistant had no previous NBA coaching experience. In fact, his last coaching job had been in a semi-professional league in Puerto Rico. At that time, nobody could have imagined how this assistant coach from Montana would re-write the history books, and transform basketball as we know it.

To truly understand Phil Jackson is almost impossible. Constant smirks and timely media jabs are expected from Jackson these days, but back in 1987 he was nothing more than a man looking for a chance to make a name for himself.

After being hired by the Bulls, Jackson bided his time with Collins at the helm. Around this time he met the man that would change his career. Tex Winter may be the most influential person the basketball world has never heard of. Winter’s so-called ‘triangle offense’ intrigued Jackson, and for good reason.

While nobody knew it at the time, this fateful meeting and subsequent teaming up of these two brilliant minds would forever change the NBA. Next: Running with the Bulls

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