Phil Jackson has won 11 NBA championships as a coach, but he says his desire to get back in the NBA isn’t to reprise the role he did so much better than anyone else. This comes our way via a truly great breakfast interview with Sports Illustrated‘s Jack McCallum. The parts of that hour-long talk that were published by SI hover around a few topics (what’s changed? how engaged to the game are you?) but none so large as the Lakers and his future in the game.
The interplay between those two is most interesting — though that he only recently bought NBA League Pass is kind of interesting from a Luddite point of view, too. Jackson says he does not want to coach again but also too he reveals specifically that not building sets around Dwight Howard has hurt L.A. Maybe it’s just that a coach’s eye can’t unsee the game from that perspective once he’s stepped away from the game. Asked specifically if he’ll coach again he says:
SI: The $12 million question — and I’m just throwing out a number — is: Are you going to coach in the NBA again?
Jackson: I’m not coaching. I told Mitch [Kupchak, Lakers GM] that back in October. So when we sat down in November [to talk about taking over after Mike Brown was fired], he brought that up and I said, “Well, this isn’t about moving or going somewhere else and learning new players. It’s different. So I’m ready to think about coming back, but I still have to think about it.”
But I do hold out the idea that there’s still influence in the game I could have. Red Auerbach, Pete Newell, Wayne Embry, guys like that have had … a number of people have had considerable influence and haven’t been coaches per se.
SI: So … a GM job?
Jackson: I don’t like that term. Vice president of basketball operations/director of player personnel is more like it.
For a guy who doesn’t want to endure the wear and tear on his body of coaching, he talks openly about what he’d do if he were in another coach’s position, though. While those answers are born out of his current role as an unofficial consultant for what he says are five teams, it raises the question of whether he’d be satisfied to sit by as VP and let a coach handle the details during a slump. A coach under Jackson would be a fool not to heed his advice, but there’s a fine line between advice from a master and feeling he’s meddling into your business. We’ll just wait to see until he gets back into the NBA, because as he says, he wants back in.
Could Jackson be an effective VP, not a coach?
Follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGreif.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.