Phil Jackson: Lakers’ hiring of D’Antoni “seemed slimy”
“I did not solicit or ask for the opportunity,” Phil Jackson later realeased in a statement through his agent’s office on Monday, “but I welcomed both he and Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as the head coach.”
In the discussion that followed through for over more than an hour, the two sides broadly discussed the Los Angeles Lakers’ goals, current standing players and assistant coaches but no written contractual agreements were drawn.
“No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a hand shake,” said Phil Jackson, “and an understanding that I would have until Monday (today) to come back to them with my decision.”
And despite his continuing health struggles, the 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson was ready to return for his third stint as the Los Angeles Lakers’ coach.
“I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job,” revealed Phil Jackson.
However, Phil Jackson claimed he received an unexpected phone call from Mike Kupchak at midnight on Sunday.
“He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team,” Phil Jackson recalled that conversation. “The decision is of course theirs to make.”
With the Los Angeles Lakers heading into a 3-4 start (with two recent victories) many thought Phil Jackson was the best fit considering how he transformed a mediocre roster with just Kobe Bryant on it in his second coaching stint and the way the team crumbled on his departure.
“I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who endorsed my return,” stated Phil Jackson, “and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.”
Later Monday night Phil Jackson acknowledged that his interest in coaching the Los Angeles Lakers also arose from the “excitement” surrounding the team and the wealth of “talent” on the roster this season. Additionally, Phil Jackson claimed he felt “physically much stronger now than I was last Spring."
However, Phil Jackson expressed that the Los Angeles Lakers should have been “a little bit cleaner” over their discussion, as he’d hope things would after issues of “transparency” were bought up in his second stint of coaching.
"It could have been much more circumspect and respectful of everybody that’s involved,” said Phil Jackson. “It seemed slimy to be awoken with this kind of news. It’s just weird."
As his agent had stated in the morning, Phil Jackson too refuted allegations of making heavy demands on of more control over the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office and wanting to skip on a large number of road games this season.
"There's nothing about that," said Phil Jackson adding that he did bring up transparency issues.
“I did bring up (Saturday) there were a couple things that went by me that time,” said Phil Jackson, “and I would be part and parcel of such a thing this time.”