Phil Jackson says he’ll return to coach Lakers
July 3, 2009
LOS ANGELES – Phil Jackson will return to coach the Los Angeles Lakers next season, getting a clean bill of health following a record championship season.
The Hall of Fame coach turns 64 in September and said on the team’s Web site Friday he got the go-ahead for another season after consulting the team doctor.
Jackson led the Lakers to their 15th NBA championship and his 10th title in June, breaking the mark he shared with the late Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach.
“I feel confident that I can gainfully pursue an NBA season with another long playoff postseason,” he said. “All things point to go!”
He signed a two-year contract extension last season and holds the option on a second year.
Last season, Jackson missed two West Coast road games because of pain and swelling in his lower legs caused by plantar fasciitis, a problem he had checked out. He blamed late-night flights that aggravated the condition.
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He has undergone two hip replacement operations since October 2006 – using a cane at various times – and walks with a noticeable hitch in his step. He underwent an angioplasty in 2003 to open a clogged artery in his heart.
Jackson became the Lakers’ coach in 1999, and guided the team to NBA titles in each of his first three seasons. He left following the 2003-04 season but returned the following season.
Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls to six championships in the 1990s. His .705 regular-season winning percentage is tops in league history and his 1,041 victories are sixth best.