Basketball Legends: Phil Jackson
When talking of the true legends of basketball, people always tend to refer to players – those who have scored a lot of baskets, have made important baskets, or have made assists to other players or stopped opposing players from scoring. However, no pantheon of basketball legends could ever be complete without paying tribute to the name of Phil Jackson – probably the greatest head coach in the history of the game. In the first 20 years of his coaching career Jackson won ten NBA titles, and he is still going. That means that half of the completed seasons in his career have ended with the ultimate prize.
If that’s not enough for you, then think on this. Only five times in the history of basketball has a team carried out a “three-peat” – winning three NBA titles back to back. On three of those occasions, the team was coached by Phil Jackson (twice with the Chicago Bulls in the 90s, and with the Los Angeles Lakers at the beginning of the 21st Century). The last time it happened with anyone other than Phil Jackson coaching was in the 1950s. There is no doubting that Phil Jackson has been blessed with talented players, but it says something that the tandem offense of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant finally kicked into gear in 1999 when Jackson arrived in Los Angeles.
Sometimes it isn’t the players that win titles. Sometimes it is the tactics and the game plan. If you were to select one man to put together the perfect game plan, Phil Jackson would have to be that man.