Jackson keeping his option open
Jerry Buss wants Phil Jackson to coach the Lakers for years to come, but there’s one small problem: Jackson isn’t quite ready to commit beyond this season.
Jackson stayed consistent with an overall reluctance to look into the future when asked Tuesday about recent comments by the Lakers’ owner.
“I’m just going one season at a time, really,” Jackson said. “That’s all there is to do in this situation.”
Jackson is in the first year of a two-year, $23-million contract extension, although next season is optional.
After this season ends, he’ll evaluate how he feels and decide if he wants to log a 19th season as an NBA coach.
Jackson, 63, has had both hips replaced and had an angioplasty procedure in 2003 to clear a blocked artery. His back and legs often feel the stress of 12 seasons as a power forward in the NBA, in case the long airplane flights and unfamiliar hotel beds aren’t enough of a reminder these days.
“Traveling is part of our job in this business,” Jackson said. “You go out on the road . . . and that takes some effort and takes some energy. This conference is especially difficult for teams. When you’re on the West Coast and you have to travel to New Orleans, Memphis, across the Mississippi and across two-thirds of the country and two time zones, it makes a big difference.”
At the same time, Jackson said he was enjoying the first few weeks of the new season.
“It’s always much more fun to win than lose, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
Buss couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise of Jackson in a recent interview.
“With this team, he may grow very old and still be the coach. I don’t see him going anywhere,” Buss said. “I know he has some medical difficulties, but this team looks like a delight and I just can’t see anybody walking away from it.”
Jackson was surprised when told he had coached his 1,400th NBA game in the Lakers’ 106-99 victory Tuesday over Dallas.
“Is that right?” Jackson said. “Time flies.”
Jackson is 13th in the league in career games coached, 17 games behind Red Auerbach.
Jackson is the only coach in league history to win at least 70% of his games (982-418, 70.1% winning percentage).
Five Lakers were on the All-Star ballot that was announced Tuesday: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom.
Bryant is a 10-time All-Star and Gasol made it with Memphis in 2006.
Bynum, Fisher and Odom have never made the All-Star team.
The All-Star game is Feb. 15 in Phoenix.
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