Philip Douglas Jackson (born September 17, 1945 in Deer Lodge, Montana) is a retired American basketball player and current coach of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Jackson is known for his use of Tex Winter's triangle offense as well as a holistic approach to coaching that is influenced by Eastern philosophy, earning him the nickname "Zen Master" (Jackson cites Robert Pirsig's book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as one of the major guiding forces in his life; his fond admiration for the book is the source of the nickname). He also applies Native American spiritual practices as documented in his book "Sacred Hoops". He is the author of several candid books about his teams and his basketball strategies. Jackson is also a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Roughrider Award. In August 2008, Jackson received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from his alma mater the University of North Dakota.
Jackson has been inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach. He has won eleven NBA Finals Championships (2 as a player and 9 as a coach). Each of the seventeen seasons that he has coached in the NBA his team has made the NBA Playoffs.
Phil Jackson attended high school in Williston, North Dakota where he played varsity basketball and led the team to two state titles. He also played football, was a pitcher in baseball, and threw the discus. His older brother Chuck speculated years later that the three Jackson sons, including Phil, threw themselves passionately into athletics because it was the only time they were allowed to do what other children were doing. Phil attracted the attention of several baseball scouts. Their notes found their way to future NBA coach Bill Fitch, who had previously coached baseball, and had been doing some scouting for the Atlanta Braves. Fitch took over as head basketball coach at The University of North Dakota in the spring of 1962, during Jackson's junior year of high school.
Fitch successfully recruited him to UND, after dinner and a movie over a glass of wine, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Jackson did well there, helping the Fighting Sioux to third- and fourth-place finishes in the NCAA Division II tournament in his sophomore and junior years (1965 and 1966). Both years, they would be beaten by Southern Illinois. This was the era in which Jackson's future Knicks teammate Walt Frazier was the Salukis' biggest star, but the two only faced off in 1965, as Frazier was academically ineligible in 1966. In college, Phil majored in Religion, Philosophy, and Psychology.
In Williston, North Dakota, where Jackson attended high school, a sports complex is named after him.
Jackson and the Bulls made the playoffs every year, and failed to win the title only three times. Jackson lost in his first season in 1990. Michael Jordan's first retirement after the 1993 season marked the end of the first "three-peat", and although Jordan returned just before the 1995 playoffs, it was not enough to prevent a playoff exit to the rising Orlando Magic.
The chemistry developed between Jackson and the players was one of the best in NBA history. The respect shared between the players and the coach was the key factor in being able to build up a dynasty. While Jordan was already long considered the most dominant player, Jackson was also credited as one of the most important elements in the Bulls' championships and his work earned him league-wide recognition.
Regardless of the success Jackson shared with his team, the tension between Jackson and Bulls general manager Jerry Krause grew. Some believed that Krause felt under-recognized for his work in building the Bulls up into a championship team, being jealous of the attention received by Jordan and Jackson. In particular, Krause believed that Jackson was indebted to him because Jackson received his first NBA coaching job from Krause. Some examples of the tension include:
After the Bulls' final title of the Jordan era in 1998, Jackson left the team vowing never to coach again. However, after taking a year off, he decided to give it another chance with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2005 to the present.
Titles in 2001 and 2002 followed, against the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets, adding up to a three-peat. The main serious challenge the Lakers faced was from their conference rival, the Sacramento Kings.
However, injuries, weak bench play, and full-blown public tension between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal slowed the team down, and they were beaten in the second round of the 2003 NBA Playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs.
Afterward, Jackson clashed frequently with Bryant. While remarkably efficient in Jackson's "triangle offense", Bryant had a personal distaste for Jackson's brand of basketball and subsequently called it "boring." In games, Bryant would often disregard the set offense completely to experiment with his own one-on-one moves, incensing the normally calm Jackson. Bryant managed to test Jackson's patience enough that the "Zen Master" even demanded that Bryant be traded, although Laker management rejected the request.
Prior to the 2003–04 season, the Lakers signed NBA star veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton, who had been franchise players for the Utah Jazz and the Seattle SuperSonics, respectively, leading to predictions by some that the team would finish with the best record in NBA history. But from the first day of training camp, the Lakers were beset by distractions. Bryant's rape trial, continued public sniping between O'Neal and Bryant, and repeated disputes between Jackson and Bryant all affected the team during the season. Despite these distractions, the Lakers beat the defending champion Spurs en route to advancing to the NBA Final and were heavy favorites to regain the title. However, they were stunned by the Detroit Pistons, who utterly dominated the series and defeated the Lakers four games to one.
On June 18, 2004, three days after Jackson had suffered his first-ever loss in an NBA Finals series, the Lakers announced that Jackson would leave his position as Lakers coach. Many fans attributed Jackson's departure directly to the wishes of Bryant, as Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss reportedly sided with Bryant. Jackson, Bryant and Buss all denied that Bryant had made any explicit demand regarding Jackson. However, O'Neal, upon hearing General Manager Mitch Kupchak's announcement of the team's willingness to trade O'Neal and its intention to keep Bryant, indicated that he felt the franchise was indeed pandering to Bryant's wishes with the departure of Jackson. O'Neal's trade to the Miami Heat was the end of the "Trifecta" that had led the Lakers to three championship titles.
That fall, Jackson released The Last Season, a book which describes his point of view of the tensions that surrounded the 2003–04 Lakers team. The book was pointedly critical of Kobe Bryant; at one point, Jackson called Bryant "uncoachable."
Without Jackson and O'Neal the Lakers were forced to become a faster paced team on the court. Though they achieved some success in the first half of the season, injuries to several players including stars Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom forced the team out of contention, going 34-48 in 2004–05 and missing the playoffs for the first time in eleven years. Jackson's successor as coach, Rudy Tomjanovich, resigned midway through the season, citing health issues, immediately leading to speculation that the Lakers might bring Jackson back.
On June 15, 2005, the Lakers rehired Phil Jackson. Jackson took a Laker squad that was mediocre, aside from superstar Kobe Bryant, and led them to a seventh-seed playoff berth. Once again promoting the notion of selfless team play embodied by the triangle offense, the team achieved substantial results, especially in the last month of the season. Jackson also worked seamlessly with Bryant, who had earlier shown his willingness to bring back Jackson to the bench. Bryant's regular-season performance won him the league scoring title and made him a finalist in MVP voting. However, the Lakers faced a tough first-round matchup against the second-seeded Phoenix Suns, who were led by eventual MVP winner Steve Nash. It was the first time that Jackson's team had failed to reach the second round of the playoffs. The Lakers jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but they lost the series as the Suns became the eighth team in NBA history to rally from such a deficit.
Jackson's main tactical contribution, both with the Bulls and the Lakers, was the modernization of the triangle offense. He is also noted as a gifted handler of difficult players, notably Dennis Rodman and Kwame Brown. Jackson currently makes $10,000,000 a year, making him the highest paid coach in NBA history.
On January 7, 2007, Jackson won his 900th game, currently placing him 9th on the all-time win list for NBA coaches. With this win, Jackson became the fastest to reach 900 career wins, doing so in only 1,264 games and beating Pat Riley's previous record of 900 in 1,278 games.
On December 12, 2007, after announcing he would return to his position as coach just a few days prior, Phil Jackson inked a 2-year contract extension to continue his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers through the end of the 2009-2010 season.
Jackson has a total of 11 NBA championship rings: two as a player with the New York Knicks, six as coach of the Bulls, and three as coach of the Lakers. Nine NBA championships as a head coach ties him with Red Auerbach for the all-time lead in that category. Phil Jackson also holds the best playoff winning percentage of all-time. As of the end of the 2007-08 NBA Season, Jackson's regular season record stands at 976-418.
He coached the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. Boston won the series in game 6 of the NBA finals, beating the Lakers in the final game in Boston.
In addition, in the 2001 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jackson had Tyronn Lue, a player on the Lakers team who was comparable in size and height to Sixers star Allen Iverson, wear a sock on his arm during Lakers practice to simulate Iverson's use of a compression arm sleeve as part of his regular gametime attire. Philadelphia media considered this to be a mind game tactic of Jackson's, but the main idea was to simulate what a game against Iverson is like, right down to the tattoos and cornrows (which Lue also had).
|- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1989–90 |82||55||27||.671|| align="center" |2nd in Central||16||10||6 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Finals |- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1990–91 |82||61||21||.744|| align="center" |1st in Central||17||15||2 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1991–92 |82||67||15||.817|| align="center" |1st in Central||22||15||7 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1992–93 |82||57||25||.695|| align="center" |1st in Central||19||15||4 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1993–94 |82||55||27||.671|| align="center" |2nd in Central||10||6||4 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Semifinals |- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1994–95 |82||47||35||.573|| align="center" |3rd in Central||10||5||5 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Semifinals |- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1995–96 |82||72||10||.878|| align="center" |1st in Central||18||15||3 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1996–97 |82||69||13||.841|| align="center" |1st in Central||19||15||4 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |CHI | align="left" |1997–98 |82||62||20||.756|| align="center" |1st in Central||21||15||6 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1999–00 |82||67||15||.817|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||23||15||8 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |2000–01 |82||56||26||.683|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||16||15||1 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |2001–02 |82||58||24||.707|| align="center" |2nd in Pacific||19||15||4 | align="center" |Won NBA Championship |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |2002–03 |82||50||32||.610|| align="center" |2nd in Pacific||12||6||6 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Semifinals |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |2003–04 |82||56||26||.683|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||22||13||9 | align="center" |Lost in NBA Finals |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |2005–06 |82||45||37||.549|| align="center" |3rd in Pacific||7||3||4 | align="center" |Lost in First Round |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |2006–07 |82||42||40||.512|| align="center" |2nd in Pacific||5||1||4 | align="center" |Lost in First Round |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |2007–08 |82||57||25||.695|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||21||14||7 | align="center" |Lost in NBA Finals |- | align="left" |Career | ||1394||976||418||.700|| ||277||193||84 |}