Phil Jackson has no intention to coach, but intentions can change

Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson calls superstar Kobe Bryant a "hard-headed learner" in his new book.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

A week ago at a talk about his memoir, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,” at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, Jackson said he’d be kidding himself to consider another coaching position.

“When I was done I knew I was done -- physically it was over,” Jackson said. “Even after I got a knee replacement and a prostatectomy in the last year and a half.”


A more recent dialogue with The Times at an event for Time Warner Cable Media on Wednesday revealed a much more ambiguous stance.

“I have no intention of coaching,” said Jackson, giving what he called his “stock answer.”

But intentions change on a whim?

“Don’t they?” he replied. “What can I use instead of intention? No plans to coach?”

“The physical nature of coaching I think has passed me by on some level,” Jackson continued.

His fiance Jeanie Buss, an owner and executive with the Lakers who was sitting beside him during the interview, took exception with Jackson’s self-characterization, shaking her head vigorously in disagreement.

“I’m getting stronger and healthier all the time as I recover from some things that have gone on the last couple of years,” said Jackson, now with Buss nodding demonstratively. “The desire to coach I think is always going to be there, the knowledge of what you’d like to see happen on the floor.”

Jackson has gotten through a battle with prostate cancer, diagnosed in 2011.

While he currently might not be up to the task physically, and while his intention right now is to say no, with his health improving, intentions can change.

“If you want to put it that way, I’ll let you go that direction,” said Jackson.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have a coach under contract. General Manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear at the end of the season that the Lakers have every intention of keeping Mike D’Antoni on the bench for the coming season.


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