The Men who Led the Lakers
Phil Jackson (1999-2004, 2005-2011)
Phil Jackson: 1999-2004, 2005-2011
When Phil Jackson announced his retirement subsequent to the 2010-11 season, he did so boasting the greatest coaching career in NBA history, winning 11 championships in his 20 seasons, including five with the Lakers.
His is a case in which the numbers speak for themselves: more titles than any other coach; the highest regular season winning percentage (70.4 percent); the fourth most regular season wins (1,155); the most playoff wins and the highest playoff winning percentage (68.8 percent); and so on. In 20 seasons, Jackson led his teams to the Finals an incredible 13 times (65 percent).
He came to the Lakers after winning six championships with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls, inherited more outstanding talent in Los Angeles and had a lot of help along the way.
"I'll sum it up (by saying) talent wins,” said Jackson in his exit interview. “When you have talent to coach, it makes all the difference in the world. I've coached some of the best talent that's ever played the game. That's a real fact of the matter. To be able to generate momentum so it wasn't just one trick and it was over, has a lot to do with the staff that joined me. Tex Winter, Johnny Bach, Jim Cleamons, Jimmy Rodgers, Frank Hamblen, Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis and Chuck Person ... Bill Cartwright was there for a year, and Johnny Paxson in Chicago.”
Bill Bertka, in L.A. throughout Jackson’s tenure, knew Jackson from his days as a player with the New York Knicks, and told Jackson in the early 1980’s that he’d be a “hell of a coach” one day due to his background, hoops IQ and physical presence (Jackson goes about 6-10).
Jackson and Winter brought the triangle with them from Chicago to L.A., which almost seamlessly fit the personnel just as it had with the Bulls, but Bertka found Jackson’s unique personality and style to be just as beneficial as the team’s talent and system.
“He established himself as the best of all time with his style, in his own way,” said Bertka. “He was very comfortable in his position, relaxed as a coach, not what you'd call a fire and brimstone, but sometimes you can't measure a person's intensity just by looking at him.
“There might be all hell breaking loose inside, but he was calm and poised on the outside, and I think our teams played like that. What the heck more can a guy do than win all those titles?”
LAKERS COACHING RECORD:
Regular Season: 610-292 (.676)
Playoffs: 118-63 (.651)
Total: 728-355 (.672)