Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson was a surprise visitor at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo on Wednesday, sitting upstairs with his back to reporters who were downstairs covering practice.
Jackson, who won five NBA championships with the Lakers coaching Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, sat outside of the office of Jeanie Buss, the team’s controlling owner and president.
Jackson was seen talking with Kurt Rambis, one of his former assistants with the Lakers and New York Knicks and the current senior basketball advisor for the Lakers.
While talking to reporters after practice, Lakers coach Luke Walton said he had not spoken to Jackson, but that the two of them have stayed in contact over the years.
“I haven’t talked to Phil today, but if that’s him, I’ll head upstairs,” said Walton, whose team was leaving Wednesday afternoon for a four-game trip that starts Thursday in Houston.
Walton won championships as a player with Jackson in 2009 and 2010.
“Even the year I semi-retired, Phil’s someone I like to stay in constant communication with,” Walton said.
Walton was asked if Jackson would be proud of his former player.
“Ah, you’d have to ask Phil that,” Walton said.
LeBron James wasn’t seen after practice Wednesday so it was not known if he had spoken to or even seen Jackson.
James was offended when Jackson was the president of the Knicks and referred to James’ business partners as a “posse” during an interview with ESPN two years ago.
When asked about that comment two seasons ago while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, James said he had “zero” ties to Jackson.
“No relationship at all,” James said. “I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do. Obviously he was at the helm of [the Chicago Bulls team featuring] my favorite player of all time [Michael Jordan], and also being there growing up and watching him with the Lakers, but I got nothing for him.”