Phil Jackson talks smack about Jimmy Buss and why talks fell apart with the Lakers in updated autobiography


(David J. Phillip/AP)

New York Knicks President Phil Jackson updated his autobiography “Eleven Rings” recently and decided to drop a few bombshells, including what he thinks are the real reasons why he was passed over for the Lakers coaching job in 2012 for Mike D’Antoni (who, by the by, resigned after working from just 2012 to 2014 because of poor team performance) and why Dwight Howard wouldn’t re-sign with the team.

Regarding the former, it was basically all his fiancee Jeanie’s brother Jimmy Buss’s fault. Here’s the story in Jackson’s own words via the New York Daily News:

“Most fans know what happened next. Mitch called me around midnight on Sunday and told me they had decided to hire another coach, Mike D’Antoni. I was a little stunned at first, but, on reflection, I realized why things fell apart so quickly. I was thinking of the job as a one-season gig, but Jimmy [Buss, the Lakers’ head of basketball operations] and Mitch [Kupchak, the Lakers’ general manager] were looking for a coach who could help them rebuild the team over the long haul. They were also eager to turn the Lakers back into the sort of fast-paced, high-scoring team they were in the Magic Johnson ‘Showtime’ era — and D’Antoni was certainly a coach who could make that happen.

The overriding issue, however, was the state of owner Jerry Buss’s health. He’d been in and out of the hospital during the previous several months battling prostate cancer and other ailments. But things had taken a turn for the worse recently, and his family hoped that a turn in the Lakers’ fortunes might bring some joy into his life and, with luck, help speed his recovery.

Several weeks later, the story came out that Dr. Buss, not Jimmy, had made the decision to go with D’Antoni. This seemed unlikely to me given the state of Jerry’s health — not to mention, Jimmy’s long history of impetuous decision-making — but it was impossible to verify that story one way or the other. In the end, it didn’t matter that much anyway. I was ready to move on.”

In other smack-talking revelations, Jackson writes who he thinks is responsible for Howard’s decision not to re-sign with the Lakers in 2013, but instead to move to the Houston Rockets. It’s Kobe Bryant! Jackson writes (via the New York Daily News again):

“The Lakers invited Kobe and Steve to the final pitch meeting to help persuade Dwight to come on board. It sounded like a good idea. Steve sent out an amusing tweet before the meeting: ‘Dwight Howard we’re coming for you. You’re going to love the statue we build for you outside Staples in 20yrs!’ And Kobe made a moving speech during the pitch, promising to teach Dwight the secret of winning championships that he’d learned from the best in the game.

If the meeting had ended there, it might have worked. But after the presentation, Dwight asked Kobe what he was planning to do after he recovered from his Achilles injury. Was this going to be his last year? ‘No,’ replied Kobe. ‘I’m planning to be around for three or four more years.’

At that point, according to others in the room, Dwight’s eyes went blank and he drifted away. In his mind, the game was over.

A few days later he announced that he was signing with the Rockets.”

 

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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