Phil Jackson recalls his non-hiring by the Lakers on ‘Tonight Show’


Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson visited Jay Leno on the “Tonight Show” on Thursday night to promote his upcoming book “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.”

Jackson described his brief flirtation with returning to the Lakers early in the season.

“They fired the coach, Mike Brown,” said Jackson. “I had no idea they were going to come after me, but Jeanie [Buss] comes home and she says, ‘Will you talk to my brother. ‘“


Jim Buss runs the Lakers’ basketball operations department while his sister Jeanie, also Jackson’s fiancee, is in charge of the team’s business operations.

“The next day, [Jim and I] sit and talk for an hour and 15 minutes,” Jackson recalled. “I said, ‘I can coach this team. I have no doubts about it. Physically I’m OK but I just don’t know if I’m ready to step back into this. Give me a weekend to think about it.’”

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, who was in the meeting, gave Jackson notice that the team would need to continue talking to other candidates.

“I understand that part. I’ll give you my word on Monday,” replied Jackson. “Sunday night at midnight I get a call from Mitch saying, ‘We’ve hired another coach, Mike D'Antoni.’ ”

Jackson noted that D'Antoni hasn’t had much of a chance so far, with the team’s difficult start.

According to Jackson, Kupchak said the motivation to go with D'Antoni was that he was the best choice for this specific group of players.

“I told Jeanie. She was upset for two months -- I got engaged,” Jackson said.

The Hall of Fame coach also noted that he’s not interested in coaching again but is interested in working in a team’s front office.


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