The Associated Press is reporting that Phil Jackson will return to coach the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2010-11 season, putting off retirement for at least another year to chase his 12th NBA championship.
Jackson made the announcement Thursday with a news release. The Hall-of-Fame coach said last week he was leaning toward retirement after another long season, but he changed his mind after getting a week to rest up at his offseason home in Montana.
With Jackson at the helm, the Lakers recently won their second consecutive NBA championship – their fifth under Jackson – should be the prohibitive favorites to repeat next season.
Jackson, who will turn 65 later this year, says next season will be “a last stand for me, and I hope a grand one.”
Going after a possible fourth “three-peat” was just too much for Jackson to pass up, and the Lakers have all the pieces to make another title run. Kobe Bryant is still in his prime years, Pau Gasol has developed into a first-team All-NBA performer and Andrew Bynum is expected to make a full recovery from his torn meniscus on his right knee.
“He knows how badly I want him back. Let’s go for it again,” Bryant said shortly after the Lakers won Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.
Jackson has been dealing with health issues for the past four seasons, mainly knee, back and hip ailments. He struggles to get through long road trips because he can’t sit in an airplane for long hours, and he needs a customized “booster” chair on the bench to alleviate his back pain.
Since Jackson came to L.A. in 1999, the Lakers have been to the NBA Finals seven times. Jackson is the winningest coach in the league in terms of championships, and if you include his two rings as a player he has been a part of 13 championship teams.