One thing rings true in every NBA-related conversation I have with die-hard basketball fans, Phil Jackson is not to be effed with as a coach. People don't like Kobe. People don't like LeBron. But everybody seems to like and respect Phil Jackson. Why? Because Phil is that dude. Phil Jackson is in a category all by himself when it comes to basketball coaches that have been coaching since the year I was born (you are a fool if you think I'm gonna list the year). Jerry Sloan has had longevity and deserves a mention but you know what he doesn't have, an NBA title (and the sad part is he won't get one). Phil's got like a baker's dozen of them shyts (not really a baker's dozen, but close)!!!
Phil just capped off a second season in a row of winning a title with arguably the best player in the game (definitely the most hated superstar player) and a supporting cast of 2 all-star caliber players (Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol), 1 old guy with a ridiculous amount of heart and resolve (Derek Fisher), and a young kid that may blossom into a pretty good center some day that happens to be like 7 feet tall (Andrew Bynum). The Lakers starting 5 couldn't get much better than it is right now considering salary cap restraints in the NBA. It's not like they're going to go sign Wade, LeBron, Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Bosh, or another one of the big names this off-season AND still be able to keep the nucleus they have. Phil's got nothing left to prove with this team other than they can win a 3rd title in a row.
This would be a great challenge and is the primary reason I think Kobe will go so far as to beg Phil to stay (will he offer to eff him in the A is the question b/c you know how Kobe rolls and Phil's a lil too "Zen" sometimes...Yes, I'm a Kobe-hater). But I think there's a much more interesting scenario that I'd like to see play out, and partly because I'm a huge fan of that guy from Akron.
What if Phil Jackson signed-on to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers?
I don't think I've heard any commentator mention this yet so either I'm uninformed about some reason he can't/won't go to Cleveland, or I need to apply for a job at ESPN. Think about it...
- LeBron would come back FOR SURE because Phil is a gigantic upgrade from Mike "Can't Figure Out the Proper Rotation" Brown and would immediately give LeBron a coach he could trust without second-guessing. Phil's a proven coach and LeBron's coachable so my assumption is that LeBron would be fine with doing whatever Phils says because it's obviously worked.
- Phil would have the opportunity to have coached the 3 greatest players of my lifetime and take them all to at least 1 championship. Imagine 10 years from now when they're talking about the greatest coach ever and they say he coached Michael, Kobe, and LeBron to NBA titles. Seriously, that would be amazing! Three sure-fire Hall of Famers and 3 of the best 10 basketball players of all-time (assuming LeBron doesn't get injured, fall off a cliff athletically, or let his mother's scrumpet tendencies screw up his life). Phil's legacy would be completely cemented and we'd probably not see another coach pull that off, eVAR!
- Phil would also have the chance to build a supporting cast around LeBron the same way he did with Michael in Chi-Town and Kobe in L.A. I'd argue that Kobe's supporting cast is better than what Mike had back in the day and also what LeBron has had since he came into the league. People don't seem to realize just how good Pau Gasol was in Memphis and how Lamar Odom's versatility creates nightmare match-ups even when he is as inconsistent as he is (you've still gotta account for him). And throw in Bynum as another tall guy on the block and that's more trouble to deal with. Then add Mr. Fake-Azz Queensbridge (Ron Artest) to the mix and you've got a defender who can give the best swingmen in the league a tough time. That team is LOADED! Imagine Phil taking a year or two or three to build that in Cleveland and also helping LeBron mature as a basketball player (just like he helped Kobe).
The common denominator in all this however, is Phil Jackson. In my mind he's without argument the greatest coach ever at this point and he's still young enough to coach for more years should he choose to do so. He's gonna get paid a ridiculous amount of money no matter where he goes so it's going to be about a challenge for him. Whether the challenge of another championship in L.A. is more intriguing than building a winner elsewhere is something we'll see in a few months. I hope Phil elects to take the road less traveled because that's damn sure the one that leads to Cleveland. I can already see the "PhilBron" and/or "LeJackson" signs at the Q, lol.
P.S. - The one wrinkle in my theory is that Phil's girl is Jeannie Buss, daughter of Laker's owner Jerry Buss. I'm sure she could find a way to influence him, lol.