All of these things are of course in the past, but there is one question that looms again six years later. Will Phil be back? It is unquestionably a different atmosphere in Tinseltown this time around, fresh off a thrilling seven game series with the hated Boston Celtics that ended in the second of back to back championships for Los Angeles. Laker fans argue that the answer is a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t Phil come back at the opportunity to add to his unparalleled legacy? With more championships than any other coach in the history of the NBA, the 2010-2011 season would mark the opportunity for his 12th championship.
Also looming is the possibility of his fourth three-peat, of which many coaches would kill to have just one. But amongst his many accomplishments that will forever litter the record books are the intangibles he brings to the team. The “Zenmaster” has often been touted as the best coach at managing star athletes and the egos that follow. There simply aren’t enough words to detail the value of Jackson to the Lakers, but there are crucial reasons why Laker fans will hit their knees in valiant prayer this week, by the end of which Jackson’s decision on his future should be known.
1. His Ability to Manage the Stars
I think I speak for all fans when I say that last off-season’s acquisition of Ron Artest made Lakers Nation nervous. His history against Kobe Bryant in recent playoff runs was still a warm memory in the minds of many. But following what can only be described as an awkward encounter with Kobe in the showers after the 2008 NBA Finals, Artest eventually found himself in the purple and gold so many NBA players covet. During a magnificent run to the 2009 title against the Orlando Magic, Laker chemistry appeared to be a thing of beauty. So when Artest hopped on board, league-wide concerns rose of whether or not he could assume a lesser role and mesh with the defending champs.
While the only thing offensive about Ron’s game during the regular season was his inability to find the basket, he proved to be huge in pivotal games of the playoffs, namely Western Conference Finals Game 5 against Phoenix and Game 7 of the Finals. Many of his post-game interviews included the admission that he still hadn’t figured out the triangle offense, but with the exciting close of an amazing playoff run by the Lakers, many forgot this concern. I think it’s safe to say Ron would struggle without Phil being able to incorporate
him into the triangle. No other coach could teach Ron at this stage of his career, with his mindset. While they had their struggles with each other through the media, Ron fit safely into the Lakers rotation and made them a top notch defensive team.
For the hardheaded Artest, things such as Jackson’s unique team meditation sessions proved to harness his passion for the game and translated into a championship. Further, with rumors swirling about interest in controversial players like Raja Bell, fans should fear for team chemistry if it is to exist without Jackson’s coaching skill. With enigmatic names such as Rodman, Artest, Jordan and Bryant under his belt, Laker fans must be confident that no other coach could direct individual talent as well as Phil.