Is Phil Jackson the best NBA coach of all time?

BY MIKE BALDWIN Modified: March 24, 2009 at 1:30 pm •  Published: March 24, 2009
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photo - Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, left, could certainly be considered one of the best NBA coaches ever. But, were his choices of coaching jobs picked for success? AP photo
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, left, could certainly be considered one of the best NBA coaches ever. But, were his choices of coaching jobs picked for success? AP photo
Best NBA coach ever?

Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who will sit on his throne-like chair tonight at the Ford Center, certainly is one of the best of all time.

Jackson has a strong resume. He’s tied with Celtics legend Red Auerbach for NBA titles (nine), is sixth in wins (1,030) and owns the best all-time winning percentage (.705).

"It’s not my job to rank people, but he’s obviously a great coach, one of the best to ever coach the game,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "He has a great philosophical concept of the game. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Auerbach, who died in 2006, once downplayed Jackson’s title trove. Auerbach said Jackson picked his spots, implying championships were the result of having players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

Jackson said he respects Auerbach’s ability to manage players and the cigar-smoking leader’s basketball IQ.

"People argue (Jackson) had Kobe and Michael, that’s why he’s won, that he hasn’t had to do much coaching,” said Thunder television analyst and former NBA player Grant Long. "You still have to manage those egos. You still have to manage players.

"He’s a great coach but is even better at pushing all the right buttons. He always gives players something to motivate them to another level ... And Auerbach had (Bill) Russell, (Bob) Cousy, (John) Havlicek and (Kevin) McHale.”

Good point. Auberbach coached 11 Hall of Fame players.

Jackson, 63, avoids any best-ever argument. He also sidesteps the "Zen Master” moniker.

"There are no Zen masters, only Zen.”

Lakers guard Derek Fisher said Jackson’s success is rooted with how he treats players as much as the famed triangle offense or X’s and O’s.


Lakers at Thunder
Time: 7 tonight

Where: Ford Center

Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Ch. 37)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM, Sirius 219, XM 233

Live blog: http://www.newsok.com/sports/thunder

Three things to know

→Los Angeles is in first place in the Western Conference.

→The Lakers rank third in the league in point differential, winning by an average of 7.7 points.

→The Thunder has lost two straight at home after winning four in a row at the Ford Center.

Probable starters

Thunder (20-50)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast
G Russell Westbrook 6-3 15.7 4.8 5.1
G Thabo Sefolosha 6-7 10.4 5.6 2.1
F Kevin Durant 6-9 26.0 6.6 2.9
F Jeff Green 6-9 17.1 7.0 2.0
C Nenad Krstic 7-0 9.6 5.7 0.6
Lakers (55-14)
G Derek Fisher 6-1 10.4 2.4 3.4
G Kobe Bryant 6-6 27.7 5.4 4.9
F Trevor Ariza 6-8 9.0 4.3 1.9
F Lamar Odom 6-10 10.8 8.1 2.6
C Pau Gasol 7-0 18.8 9.4 3.5

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