“Basketball, unlike football with its prescribed routes, is an improvisational game, similar to jazz. If someone drops a note, someone else must step into the vacuum and drive the beat that sustains the team.” — PHIL JACKSON, ‘The Last Season’.
This is it; no album, no movie. The greatest figure in the game during the 90’s not named M.J. has hung up his smart shoes and dry erase board. No more smells of incense in the locker room, no more meditation at half-time. Next season in locker rooms throughout the NBA, from the STAPLES center to the staples of other teams, a calm will have left the building. We aren’t talking about the lockout, but the retirement of the greatest coach in NBA history after the cigar smoke had cleared out gardens and arenas in the United States. Phil Jackson in a chilled out press conference said farewell to ‘The Last Season’. Autobiography or no autobiography, it was written.
Here’s to hoping that you appreciated him while he was in sync because the truth remains he’s gone. There was no honor rolls throughout the league, there wasn’t even one in Chicago. There will be no Jerry West press conferences either, despite the mid-season jokes. This enigmatic man who loves the game, but doesn’t suffer fools, wasn’t one for the hoopla surrounding hoops. He sure appreciated his time more then any of us probably will ever know, but believe it or not he has slowly and calmly gone on his way. He already had his Jordan moment, coming out of retirement. He’s not going to do it again, he knows better and we all better believe it and put it to rest even if it was for the Lakers and league best if he returned (no offense, Mike Brown). Besides do you want to be the one to disturb this man while he’s in the middle of nowhere, finding peace love and understanding?
So let’s celebrate and look back now, as Jax looks forward to no press conferences and basketball politics as usual. The Zen is what has given the association its spirit for the last two decades. From the eccentric to the sarcastic, the candour to the calm – he’s the master who has taught two of the greatest students of all-time. Turned the “uncoachable” into the untouchable. Taking care of Chicago like Elliott Ness, guarding L.A’s Hollywood stars like Kevin Costner and blowing his way through the wind with a longevity like Dylan, walking his own way to fame.
Jackson has had a lot of different shapes to deal with in his time and he’s turned them all into a beautiful triangle, whether you understand or not. From M.J. to Kobe, Scottie to Lamar, Rodman to Artest, Kukoc to Gasol, Kerr to Fisher and…erm, Longley to Shaq. No matter the talent, Phil has made sure each man brought the best out of himself, whatever the frustration. Now that and the Zen calm is what made P.J. the best coach ever, day or night. Besides, Phil saw Red and raised him a championship. Now that’s a 10 out of 10 career.