Lakers' Jackson unsure if he'll return to coaching

Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is making his 12th NBA Finals appearance, and this one against the Celtics may be his last.
Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is making his 12th NBA Finals appearance, and this one against the Celtics may be his last. (Ronald Martinez/getty Images)
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By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 18, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- For the first time in 19 seasons, Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson sat on the bench for a Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The first may be the last. Jackson, 64, has intimated that this could be his final season with the Lakers.

"You know, I still get up and say 'This is probably the last time I've ever going to do this. I can't imagine myself going through this again,' " said Jackson, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. "It's not only a lot of fun, but it's a lot of stress and pain, et cetera. But it's something you get acclimated to. I think we have built-in memory system in our bodies to forget -- it's like mothers giving birth. Somehow, they do it again and again, even though it's one of the most difficult things to ever do."

After the Lakers defeated the Celtics, 83-79, to win their 16th NBA title, Jackson was asked whether he was coming back next season. "It does improve my chances," he said.

With Tuesday's win in Game 6, Jackson broke former NHL coach Scotty Bowman's record for career playoff coaching wins with 224. This on top of receiving a gold cap with the Roman numeral 'X' in purple writing after defeating Orlando last season to win his 10th NBA championship for breaking his tie with Red Auerbach for coaching titles. Jackson has been fortunate to have the league's best player on his side through each of his 13 NBA Finals appearances -- from Michael Jordan to Shaquille O'Neal to Kobe Bryant -- but he does not take for granted the good fortune that has contributed to his success.

"I understand it," Jackson said. "There were two championships that were missed or must have had, whichever way you want to look at it, against Detroit in '04 and Boston in '08. It was a push to get to this. But when my kids brought out that hat they put on my head after the game against Orlando, it kind of sunk in, the remarkable ability to have had this amount of opportunities, which I'm grateful for.

"But saying all that, it just seems natural," he said. "I've been fortunate to have very talented players and talented teams. Along with that is a lot of responsibility that's had to be met, and I'm grateful I've been able to do that with the support of a great staff and the staffs I've had."

Celtics face questions

With rumors swirling that Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers could leave the team after this season with one year left on his contract, with Ray Allen and possibly Paul Pierce approaching free agency and with Kevin Garnett turning 34 this summer, Rivers was asked if this was the final run for this team. "Well, I hope not," Rivers said. "Obviously, I'm not sure. I do think we're going to be better in some ways next year because Kevin will be healthier. It's always a year removed from surgery that you have your best year. Obviously we have to sign Ray, Rasheed [Wallace] has to come back and all that stuff. So there's a lot of variables.

"But I think we should always view it that way, I'll put it that way. You can never take for granted a season, a game, and especially Game 7 of the NBA Finals. You never know if and when you're going to be back in that position. And so when you get in that position, you want to take advantage of it."

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