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posted: 3/12/2014 5:30 AM

An Act III for Phil Jackson? Good for him

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  • Former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson is expected to decide by the end of the week on whether to take on the task of rebuilding the New York Knicks.

      Former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson is expected to decide by the end of the week on whether to take on the task of rebuilding the New York Knicks.
    Associated Press

 
 

While many retirees pursue a second act in life, Phil Jackson is verging on Act III.

The lesson for the rest of us is that beaches, mountains and early-bird specials are overrated.

Jackson must not be content writing books, having a relatively younger woman like Jeanie Buss in his life and sitting around pontificating on social subjects over various social-media platforms.

Nothing is decided yet but indications lean toward Jackson leaning toward accepting an offer to take over basketball operations for the New York Knicks.

What, shuffleboard isn't enough to fuel Jackson's competitive fires?

The former Bulls head coach is 68 years old. He coached his last game with the Lakers three years ago. He has won 13 NBA titles as a coach and player.

The fabled Zen Master has earned the right to kick back, squeeze the daughter of late Lakers owner Jerry Buss and contemplate his glorious past.

Instead Phil Jackson is contemplating a precarious future with the knuckleheaded Knicks.

Many people Jackson's age would love to stay retired but can't financially. He can but has too active a mind to live out life without at least one more challenge.

So instead of greeting shoppers at Wal-Mart, Jackson reportedly just might go to work for goofball owner James Dolan and the dysfunctional Knicks.

Good for Phil Jackson.

The man's Act I was a playing career that included two NBA titles with the Knicks. Act II was a coaching career that added six more championships with the Bulls and five more with the Lakers.

The natural Act III would be to run a team from the front office in New York -- or from a beach house in Playa del Rey and cabin in Montana -- to complete the Triple Crown of NBA crowns.

To many, Phil Jackson still has something to prove as a basketball guru, as in, "What did he ever win without inheriting all-time great players like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal in Los Angeles?"

That's a pretty dumb quibble. The measure of coaching genius isn't taking bad players to mediocrity. It's taking great players to championships.

Jackson did that, and did it again, and did it again and again and again …

His place in history is secure. All those championships make him the most successful coach in NBA history and perhaps the best.

Ah, but that itch continues to demand scratching no matter how often the kids and grandkids come to visit.

Maybe still ringing in Jackson's ears is the question that late, great, Celtics legend Red Auerbach asked about him: "What did he ever build?

The implication was that Auerbach assembled championship players in Boston while Jackson merely fell into them with the Bulls and Lakers.

It remains the last bit of criticism any basketball observer can sling at Jackson.

So, good for Jackson if he wants to get back into the NBA mix and try to elevate the Knicks from dysfunctional to functional.

Jackson's return isn't a done deal yet. He still might be scared off by the notion that going to work for James Dolan is like a professional death wish.

However, there's really no downside for Jackson. His legacy isn't going to devolve from coaching Zen Master to executive boob if he can't preside over a Knicks championship.

Nor is there a downside for pro basketball when someone like Jackson is working in the game.

Any sport can use a compelling character or a great mind, and in Jackson the NBA would get both in one elongated package.

However Act III would turn out, a Phil Jackson comeback would benefit the league as much as it would him.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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