Phil Jackson- Greatest NBA Coach Ever

June 05, 2008 |

DO NOT SAY IT!  I don’t want to hear about how the “Zen Master” has been fortunate enough to coach the greatest players of our era and that’s why he has nine championship rings. 

Okay, I mean if you want to, you can say it- it’s just that you’ll sound silly. 

I’ve spent eleven years as a local in the cities in which Jackson coached. 

I lived in Chicago from ’89-’95 and watched the Bulls dominate opponents in a way no team has ever done.  During the regular season they just toyed with you before smacking you around come playoff time.

I was in Los Angeles from ’98-’03 and witnessed the Lakers three-peat with Jackson at the helm.

Hell, as a little kid from Brooklyn, I even got to see the hippie guy with bushy hair play for the 1973 championship Knicks team.  He was a defensive monster, a smart player and one of the best “sixth men” in the league.

There’s been plenty of coaches with players talented enough to win championships who have come up short.

Not Phil Jackson.

It’s his leadership, his ability to get the most out of marginal guys at just the right time, and the triangle offense (developed with his long time assistant Tex Winter) which has brought his teams championships.

In Chicago, he took a “Dominique Wilkins type scoring machine” in Michael Jordan and helped turn him into the greatest player who’s ever stepped onto a court. 

He took guys named Pippen, Grant, Paxson and turned them into superstars.

There were egos in Chicago for sure.  Believe me, every day when I picked up the Tribune or the Sun Daily, I’d read about fights between the Bulls’ big three.  But they believed in their Buddhist leader and won game after game after game.

In Los Angeles, all Jackson did was take two of the biggest ego freaks of all time in Shaq and Kobe and meld them together into the greatest one-two punch since Batman and Robin.


How about this?  One year without Michael Jordan and one year with a recently returned, rusty Jordan, he managed to take the Bulls into the second round of the playoffs twice.  

So please don’t argue that Jackson is simply lucky to coach great players.  He has made marginal players good, good players great and great players first ballot hall of famers by instilling a team philosophy and a system that’s never been equaled.

He’ll get his tenth this year.  I don’t see the Celtics beating this Lakers team.  And ask yourself this- which team has more “superstars?”  Correct answer: CELTICS.

That’s how great Phil Jackson is.