Phil Jackson was famously snubbed by the Los Angeles Lakers this year when they opted to hire Mike D'Antoni as their head coach after firing Mike Brown five games into the season. It was never really clear whether Jackson was ready to take the gig, though, or whether he would have rather continued retirement as a 13-time NBA champion instead of taking on the pressure-filled Lakers' gig.
It was reported Monday that Jackson had intended to take the job, though -- he was merely waiting on medical clearance to do so.
The information on Jackson's thought process comes in a bombshell story by Ramona Shelburne that focuses heavily on the process and conversations that eventually led to Dwight Howard's departure from Los Angeles. The report also included details on a confrontation between Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
The story also harkens back to the hiring of D'Antoni. Howard had reportedly asked for Jackson to become the team's coach, and perhaps his decision to leave Los Angeles for Houston might never have happened had he had the coach he wanted.
It seems the Lakers had studied Howard's performance in pick-and-roll sets and were interested in hiring D'Antoni to match that style. The reason the team went with D'Antoni, who has never won an NBA championship, over Jackson, who has done so many times including five with the Lakers, had as much to do with an apparent miscommunication as basketball reasons.
Jackson met with Lakers brass, but wouldn't tell them right off the bat that he was interested in accepting the job. He was, though, according to Shelburne. Jackson has said his coaching days are done, but he would have helped the team -- owned by Jerry Buss, the dying father of his fiancee, Jeanie Buss -- in the squad's time of need. Because, as Shelburne notes, he considers the team family.
Jackson's his reticence to tell the team's power brokers immediately that he was interested led to them worrying he wasn't fully committed. In fact, however, he had already taken the extra time to talk to doctors about whether he was medically able to return to the day-to-day grind of coaching and whether he could have certain medical procedures delayed.
If Jackson had taken over as coach, Howard might've stayed on the Lakers and a new dynasty could've been built. Or, perhaps it wouldn't have mattered, but we'll never know now because Jackson is retired, most likely permanently, and Howard is a Rocket.
As with everything Lakers, it's drama, perfected: several extremely talented people were unable to come to terms because they didn't understand what the others wanted. That's the Dwightmare in a nutshell, and although it's over, we'll probably continue to hear things from the SuperTeam that failed.