(American pro basketball
) coach whose teams have won 8 NBA
Championships (through 2001), which leads him to be considered one of the best coaches of all-time. Known for being able to deal with player ego
s and also for his Zen
and American Indian
influences, which makes him rather unique
Jackson (DOB: 10/17/1945; Deer Lodge, Montana) played college basketball at University of North Dakota where he was coached by future NBA coach Bill Fitch. He was drafted 5th in the 2nd round (and 17th overall) by the New York Knicks in the 1967 NBA draft.
Jackson went on to have a mediocre 13 year career with the Knicks and New Jersey Nets (retiring in 1980), averaging 6.7 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. He was a part of two Knicks championship teams in 1970 and 1973, both teams defeating the Los Angeles Lakers.
Through most of the early '80s, Jackson coached the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA).
After some success there (117-90 coaching mark with Albany, and one league title), Jackson joined the Chicago Bulls as an assistant coach in 1987.
In 1989, Doug Collins was fired as the Bulls' head coach, and Jackson was named his successor. The Bulls had a nice nucleus of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant, but had not yet reached their potential, having lost to the "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons in the playoffs in 1988 and 1989.
Jackson installed assistant coach Tex Winter's "triangle offense" (also known as the triple post), which stressed teamwork, rather than the individual talents of Jordan and Pippen. Jackson managed to convince Jordan to play within the confines of this structured offense.
The Bulls went 55-27 in Jackson's first season (1989-1990), but lost to the Pistons for the 3rd straight season in the playoffs.
1990-1991 was different. The Bulls won 61 games (2nd in the NBA, behind Portland's 63) and tore through the playoffs, including sweeping their nemesis, the Pistons, in 4 games in the Eastern Conference finals. The Bulls lost Game 1 of the Finals to Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers, but won the next 4 (including 3 in LA) to win the NBA title. Jackson's Bulls had went an impressive 15-2 in the postseason.
Jackson's Bulls became a dynasty, winning their 2nd and 3rd straight NBA titles in 1992 (over Portland in 6 games)and 1993 (downing Phoenix, also in 6 games).
Michael Jordan's temporary retirement in fall 1993 halted the Bulls run for 2 seasons. The Bulls lost to the New York Knicks in the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals. Jordan returned in 1995, but was not at full strength and the Bulls lost to the Orlando Magic, again in the Eastern semifinals.
The 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls may be regarded as one of the best teams in history, going 72-10 (an NBA record) in the regular season, and beating Seattle in 6 games to win their 4th NBA title in 6 seasons. Perhaps most impressive, Jackson managed to get the enigmatic Dennis Rodman to play alongside Jordan, and achieve greatness.
Jackson led the Bulls to 2 more titles in 1997 and 1998 (beating Utah in 6 games in the Finals, both times).
In the 1998 offseason, Jordan retired and so did Jackson.
However, Jackson returned in 1999 as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers were a team with one of the best players in the league in Shaquille O'Neal and rising star Kobe Bryant. Jackson molded them together and the Lakers won a league-high 67 games in 1999-2000, and downed the Indiana Pacers in 6 games for the NBA title (the Lakers' first since 1988).
The Lakers repeated as champions in 2000-2001, downing the Philadelphia 76ers in 5 games in the Finals. Jackson's Lakers went an amazing 15-1 in the 2001 postseason, the best all-time.
Jackson's 8 championships are one behind Red Auerbach's 9 with the Boston Celtics in the '50s and '60s. His teams have won 20 straight playoff series (an NBA record).
Some might say that Jackson's success is a result of having future Hall of Famers Jordan, Pippen, Shaq, and Kobe on his teams. However, there have been many great players in history who have never won an NBA title at all (Elgin Baylor, Charles Barkley, among others). Coaching 8 champions speaks loudly of Jackson's understanding of basketball and also of human psychology, of which Jackson is a master.
Speaking of master, Jackson's often been called a Zen master for his use of Eastern culture and religion. Jackson wrote the book "Sacred Hoops : Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior" in 1996. The title alone stresses Jackson's fairly unique approach to basketball. In 2001, Jackson and Charley Rosen cowrote "More Than a Game". (More forgetably, Jackson wrote an autobiography as a player in 1975, entitled "Maverick").
Next season, the Lakers have a chance at a 3-peat, which would be Jackson's 3rd as a coach. It would also tie him with Auerbach, with 9 titles total. Regardless of whether his teams win any further titles, Phil Jackson will certainly go down in NBA history as one of the greatest coaches ever.