Phil Jackson was reportedly shocked when he received the call late Sunday night that the Lakers were moving forward with Mike D’Antoni as the head coach. Phil has released a statement in which he says the groundswell of support from the Laker fans is why he considered returning to the job and that actual terms of the contract hadn’t been discussed:
“Saturday morning, Jim Buss, called to ask if he could come and visit. I did not solicit or ask for the opportunity, 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. We talked for over an hour and a half.
“No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a hand shake and an understanding that I would have until Monday (today) to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job.
“I was awakened at midnight on Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a 3-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker Fans who endorsed my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.”
I guess Phil is implying that rumors of limited travel and input on player personnel decisions are false. But, we do know a few things. Phil wouldn’t not have come as cheap as D’Antoni. We also know that a great deal of the moves being made are wrapped up in Jim Buss’ ego. I actually believe there is truth to the demands Phil is alleged to have made. And it makes sense, he’s