We Want Phil

By Damareus Barbour

After the Los Angeles Lakers announced their decision to fire Mike Brown after a 1-4 start, many Lakers fans and players were hoping for a Phil Jackson return. Jackson, who stepped down from the team in 2011, holds the record for most NBA titles as a coach at 11 championships. Phil Jackson also holds the highest regular season win percentage of any NBA coach (.704). So how the hell did Mike D’Antoni beat out Phil Jackson for the position?

Mike D’Antoni (left) beat out Phil Jackson (right) for the head coaching position for the LA Lakers

Phil Jackson is undoubtedly the greatest NBA coach and his record supports that statement. If Jackson had returned to the Lakers it would have been his third tenure with the team, proving that he is no stranger to the program. If you know anything about professional basketball, you know and respect what Phil Jackson does with his basketball teams. His uses of the triangle offense and eastern philosophies have proven time and time again as a winning recipe for NBA titles.

On the other hand there is Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni resigned from the New York Knicks last March after coaching four years without winning a single playoff game. D’Antoni has zero NBA titles compared to Jackson’s 11 and has only been to the playoffs five times out of the 10 seasons he has coached. However, this less than stellar record might be the very reason why Mike D’Antoni was chosen over Phil Jackson.

Phil Jackson’s record makes him one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, which also gives him the expected right to command more money when discussing contract deals. Jackson’s previous annual salary with the Los Angeles Lakers was $11 million; while D’Antoni’s annual salary with the Knicks was $6 million. Rumors have surfaced around possible reasons for why D’Antoni beat out Jackson for the position- one being Phil Jackson’s reported demands for a steep salary. But for the most valuable team in the NBA at a value of $900 million dollars, something tells me that the salary was not the only thing preventing Jackson from returning to the Lakers bench.  Some believe that a feud between Phil Jackson and the Lakers owner’s son, Jim Buss, was a factor in the decision making process as well. I believe the Lakers have missed out on a great opportunity to bring back the greatest coach in the sport, who is revered not only by the Lakers fans, but the basketball community as a whole.

“I think everybody had expectations about it, and they were all pretty high,” Gasol said of Jackson’s potential return. “We all understood what Phil brings to the table … and what he means to the city and the franchise.”

As a Lakers fan I think I speak for the majority of the Lakers Nation when I say, “We Want Phil.”

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