After his romance concluded gloriously at the Bulls, Phil Jackson joined the Lakers in 1999 where he found a Shaquille O’Neal in search of a ring. The pivot recently recalled his first interview with the coach, who immediately imposed three very strict rules on him.
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Yes The Last Dance greatly benefits the image of Michael Jordan in the GOAT title race, it also allowed fans to re-appreciate Phil Jackson’s sometimes forgotten work at the Bulls. Placed in the role of principal coach of the franchise in 1989, he was quick to justify this however daring choice of Jerry Krause.
9 seasons and 6 titles later, the Zen Master decides to withdraw from the circuit after a mentally exhausting last season 1997-1998, despite a last minute offer from Jerry Reinsdorf. He wasted no time in finding a job of choice in the league, since he was appointed coach of the Lakers at the dawn of the 1999-2000 season.
The Angelinos then emerged from a rout in the Western Conference semi-finals against San Antonio (0-4), after a season cut short by a lockout. The perfect opportunity for the front office to bring new blood to its bench, to re-energize its quality workforce and rediscover the heights of the league.
Jackson, after having abandoned the Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Kukoc or Kerr, finds himself at the head of a group which includes Kobe Bryant, Glen Rice, A.C Green, Robert Horry but above all Shaquille O’Neal. He knows that the success of his new franchise depends greatly on the performance of his pivot, and wants to be transparent about his expectations from the start with him.
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This first discussion with his new coach, the Shaq has very specific memories. In the Rich Eisen Show, he tells the details of Phil Jackson’s speech and the three non-negotiable rules he imposed on him to be champion at the end of the season:
He had brought a CV. If he said, “Do this,” we were aware that he knew what he was talking about. Because every summer when we lost, we watched him take part in the Finals.
When I first met him, he said to me, “Look, if you do what I tell you, you will be MVP. You do what I tell you, you will win titles. I said, “Cool. “
The first thing he said to me was, “No more albums, limit your appearances in commercials, and listen to what I tell you. “I accepted, and it was probably the best years of my career. Once we had this formula that told us how to win, we were always thirsty for the idea of going for more.
Despite his ego, characteristic of the stars of the league, the Big Diesel complied with the orders of his new technician, who could count on his CV provided to receive the confidence of his star. The rest of the workforce did the same, and the Lakers reaped the rewards with three consecutive titles in the early 2000s.
Besides his excellent tactical sense, Phil Jackson remains certainly the best leader of men and stars that the NBA could count in his ranks. After his stint at the Bulls, he proved it again at the Lakers, especially with Shaquille O’Neal.