It’s depressing to know that the Zen Master won’t be with the Lakers forever. Who is your pick to succeed Phil? Sound-off!
ESPN: Just about the only hole in Phil Jackson’s unparalleled NBA coaching résumé is that he has not spun off successful assistant coaches, one of the reasons the Lakers find themselves with no obvious replacement whenever Jackson departs for good.
Jackson hasn’t sprouted a coaching tree like Bill Walsh. When Kurt Rambis left the Lakers for the Minnesota Timberwolves this month he became the sole current head coach from Jackson’s bench and only the third Jackson assistant to become a full-time head coach. (Jim Cleamons in Dallas and Bill Cartwright in Chicago were the other two.)
Part of this scarcity of subsequent success is due to Jackson’s preference for older assistants such as Tex Winter, Johnny Bach and Frank Hamblen, rather than up-and-coming prospects. That’s one of the reasons for Jackson’s accomplishments; coaches such as Cleamons have tried to install the triangle offense in their new jobs, but they didn’t have any of Jackson’s old assistants who understood the offense’s intricacies. Jackson had the triangle’s creator, Winter, by his side, which would be like having one of the Wright brothers as a co-pilot for your first flight.
It works for Jackson and the franchise in the short term, but imagine the Lakers’ position if medical reports led doctors to recommend that Jackson should retire. Their choices would range from inexperienced to unaccomplished, almost inevitably going from the only coach with double-digit NBA championship rings to one with zero.