Phil Jackson hasn’t said much since the team hired Mike D’Antoni last fall. Since then, the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled and, on Monday, the team’s long-time legendary owner, Jerry Buss, died.
Jackson spoke with Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated recently — before the death of Buss. Buss’s daughter, Jeanie, is a vice-president who runs the business side of the team and is Jackson’s fiancee, but her father’s death makes ownership of the team less certain now. And that makes Jackson’s answers worth reading. Here’s an excerpt; the entire interview is here.
McCallum: The $12 million question — and I’m just throwing out a number — is: Are you going to coach in the NBA again?
Jackson: I’m not coaching. I told Mitch [Kupchak, Lakers GM] that back in October. So when we sat down in November [to talk about taking over after Mike Brown was fired], he brought that up and I said, “Well, this isn’t about moving or going somewhere else and learning new players. It’s different. So I’m ready to think about coming back, but I still have to think about it.”
But I do hold out the idea that there’s still influence in the game I could have. Red Auerbach, Pete Newell, Wayne Embry, guys like that have had … a number of people have had considerable influence and haven’t been coaches per se.
McCallum: So … a GM job?
Jackson: I don’t like that term. Vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel is more like it.
McCallum: Vice president … that doesn’t sound like the boss, but the guy who would report to the owner.
Jackson: No, that guy would be the boss. He would be the president of the organization.