(Originally published on March 13, 2014)
After signing Shaquille O’Neal and drafting Kobe Bryant in the summer of 1996, the Lakers seemingly had their foundation set for the future and many expected them to dominate immediately. Unfortunately for the team, that was not the case. Though they were a good team, they were unable to get over the hump and defeat teams like the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs, when it mattered most.
After being swept out of the playoffs in consecutive years, the Lakers made a move that would change their fortunes for the next decade.
On Jun 11, 1999, the team would bring in Phil Jackson. Jackson had led the Chicago Bulls to six championships in the 1990s and was hired to take an underperforming team to the next level. And Jackson would do that, and more.
In his first season, Jackson would lead the Lakers to the best record in the NBA. They went on to win their first championship since 1988. The Lakers would add rings in the next two years as well, establishing themselves as one of the most dominant dynasties in NBA history.
Jackson would leave after the 2004 season but return in 2006 to bring the Lakers two more championships in 2009 and 2010 behind Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Jackson will forever be regarded as one of, if not, the best coach in the history of the NBA and he continues to be beloved in Los Angeles for all he’s done with the Lakers.
Though he has joined the New York Knicks front office, Jackson will forever be a part of Lakers lore for bringing the team five championships and being the premier NBA team of the 2000s.
On this Throwback Thursday, we remember the hiring of Phil Jackson in 1999.