Widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the National Basketball Association, Phil Jackson led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles from 1989 to 1998 and the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles.
The son of Assemblies of God ministers, Phil Jackson and his siblings grew up without movies, dancing or television. He played basketball, football and baseball in high school and was recruited to North Dakota to play basketball after graduation. While there, he helped his team win third- and fourth-place finishes in the NCAA Division II championships.
In 1967, Phil Jackson was drafted in the second round by the New York Knicks, where he played as a favored substitute for several years before joining the starting lineup. He retired from play in 1980.
Phil Jackson began his coaching career in the lower-level leagues. He got his break in 1987 when he was hired as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls. He was promoted to head coach in 1989 and helmed the team until 1998. It was there that he became known for his modernization of Tex Winter's triangle offense, as well as his holistic approach to coaching based on Eastern philosophy and Native American spiritual practices. His impressive leadership combined with the talents of such star players as Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman earned the Bulls six championships: two three-peats in separate three-year periods. The team made it to the playoffs every year Jackson served as coach.
Despite the success, tension grew between Phil Jackson and the Bulls general manager Jerry Krause. After winning the title in 1998, Jackson took a year off, and then joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. He had immediate success with the team, leading them to a three-peat against the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Tension between star players Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal frequently made headlines, and Jackson himself often clashed with Bryant, who regularly disregarded the coach's set offense. In 2004, Jackson left the team.
After a disappointing 2004-05 season for the Lakers, Phil Jackson was rehired as head coach. He turned the team around to a seventh-seed playoff spot. In January 2007, Jackson won his 900th game. Jackson coached the Lakers to an appearance in the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, although the Celtics ultimately won.
In December 2008, Jackson became the sixth coach to win 1,000 games, with the Lakers defeating the Celtics in their first matchup since the last year's finals. He was the fastest to win 1,000 games, surpassing Pat Riley, who had taken 11 more games than Jackson.
Jackson again coached the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 2009. In the Finals, the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 41, clinching Jackson's 10th NBA championship as head coach and surpassing the record for most championships won by a head coach previously held by him and Red Auerbach.
On February 3, 2010, Jackson recorded his 534th win as Lakers head coach, surpassing Pat Riley to become the most successful coach in franchise history. The Lakers would go on to a fifth consecutive playoff berth in 2010. He won his 11th championship and his fifth with the Lakers. He tied original Lakers head coach John Kundla's record for most NBA championships won by a head coach in Lakers franchise history.
Jackson retired following the 2011-12 season. An author of numerous books, Jackson most recently released "Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success" with Hugh Delehanty.
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