Phil Jackson Is Really Looking Forward to Retirement

by April 08, 2011

Phil sat down with a group of LA-based writers last night, and dashed what little hope Laker fans may have had about him returning next season, while telling some great stories. From the LA Times: “Phil Jackson settled deeply into a leather sofa, entirely comfortable with his decision to leave the Lakers in two months, and began to talk. He spoke of Michael Jordan meeting Kobe Bryant a decade ago, laughing as he recalled the younger Bryant immediately challenging Jordan with, ‘I can take you one on one.’ He talked readily about retirement after this season, saying he would split his time 60-40 in Montana and L.A. — or maybe 60-40 L.A./Montana, seeing how four of his five adult children are in California, as is longtime companion Jeanie Buss. At the same time, he seemed to understand the pains that awaited him after 20 years as an NBA coach. ‘There’s no doubt that’s a big empty hole in your life,’ he said knowingly of his immediate future, having already gone through a one-year sabbatical from coaching before returning to the Lakers in 2005 … Jackson, 65, is definitely not coming back to the Lakers. One particular quote made it hard to imagine him ever coaching again in the NBA. He has always hated the traveling, the uncomfortable beds in unfamiliar hotels, the bad food at late hours, the weather changes. All of it. ‘It’s a really unhealthy lifestyle,’ he said. ‘I think that’s a good reason to get out of the game in some ways too.’ He recounted with great sincerity how hard it was to return this season, period. ‘I thought I was going to retire last July,’ he said, remembering a conversation with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. ‘I told Mitch, ‘I don’t think I’m going to come back. You better plan on something besides this.’ But the urge to chase a “three-peat,” not to mention phone calls from Bryant and Derek Fisher, drove him to return for what he called “the last stand.’ ‘I knew that if I went back this time, this is it,’ he said Thursday. ‘I never wanted to coach after I was 60. I thought there was going to be a communication gap. I felt kind of like an obligation to come back … to fulfill this and complete a chapter.'”