Coach Phil Jackson Says He's Retiring The Zen master of basketball is leaving the NBA — again. And this time, he says, it's for good. Phil Jackson — the famously iconoclastic coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and, before that, the Chicago Bulls — says he's retiring. The Lakers were swept from the championship series by the Dallas Mavericks, losing Sunday night by a whopping 122-86. Melissa Block talks to Sports Illustrated contributing basketball writer Jack McCallum about Jackson's career.
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Coach Phil Jackson Says He's Retiring

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Coach Phil Jackson Says He's Retiring

Coach Phil Jackson Says He's Retiring

Coach Phil Jackson Says He's Retiring

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The Zen master of basketball is leaving the NBA — again. And this time, he says, it's for good. Phil Jackson — the famously iconoclastic coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and, before that, the Chicago Bulls — says he's retiring. The Lakers were swept from the championship series by the Dallas Mavericks, losing Sunday night by a whopping 122-86. Melissa Block talks to Sports Illustrated contributing basketball writer Jack McCallum about Jackson's career.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Here's Coach Jackson after last night's defeat.

PHIL JACKSON: This has been a wonderful run. You know, I go out with a sour note after being fined $35,000 this morning by the league, so that's not fun, and, you know, feeling like I've been chased down the freeway by them.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

JACKSON: But as Richard Nixon says, you won't be able to kick this guy around anymore.

BLOCK: Well, Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated joins me to talk about Phil Jackson's legacy. And Jack, you've followed Phil Jackson for his entire NBA coaching career, through those unprecedented 11 NBA championship titles. Any question for you that he retires as the best coach in the history of the NBA, bar none?

JACK MCCALLUM: It's no accident how great he was. If you add all those things together, you come out with the greatest coach there ever was.

BLOCK: Now, Phil Jackson has left basketball twice before. Do you take him at his word this time that he's gone for good?

MCCALLUM: I do, but he's kind of always dangled the idea that he could be an executive. I mean, why wouldn't you want this guy to run your team? I mean, he looks good in a suit now. He's traded in his flannel shirt and his jeans for a suit. I could see him coming back in the capacity of an executive.

BLOCK: Now the Mavericks' coach, Rick Carlile, said that Jackson would go to Montana and meditate and smoke peyote or whatever he does there - these are his words - and then get bored and come back. And I want to play you what Phil Jackson said about that last night after the game.

JACKSON: Well, first of all you don't smoke peyote. That's one thing (unintelligible).

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: Now, Jack McCallum when we call Phil Jackson an iconoclast, that includes psychedelic drugs, meditation, Native American spiritual healing. That's all part of who this guy is, right?

MCCALLUM: But I have seen, countless times, it is hard to give up that roar of the crowd. This is a competitive guy. The idea that he would get maybe not bored, but the idea that he would miss the action and come back, I find that entirely possible.

BLOCK: How much a part of Phil Jackson's success as a coach do you think is due to his psychological understanding of the game and the players?

MCCALLUM: And you don't get to achieve what he did by, you know, handing your players books and talking about Native American philosophy. You get it by being a great basketball coach. And he certainly was.

BLOCK: Jack McCallum, thanks so much for talking to us.

MCCALLUM: Thank you.

BLOCK: Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated, talking about the retirement of Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

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