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Phil Jackson says he had handshake deal that he could decide on Lakers job Monday

Nov 12, 2012, 7:12 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant And Phil Jackson Address The Media Getty Images

Phil Jackson is telling his side of the story.

Or, at least the public side of it.

He released a statement Monday night that confirms part of what the Lakers have said — that this was a basketball decision not a move made because of salary, time off or other requests — but it also shows that Jackson was among the many caught off guard by the Lakers hiring of Mike D’Antoni. And that the Lakers didn’t handle this professionally.

Here is the statement, courtesy Dave McMenamin of

Saturday morning, Jim Buss, called to ask if he could come and visit,” Jackson said in a prepared statement released on Monday evening.

“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.”

Well played saying it was the fans bringing you back, Phil.

It also continues to give the feeling that this was a hastily arrived at decision for the Lakers. First, if you are going to fire your sitting coach with the season underway you do some back-channel communication to see if your main targets are interested already. You don’t fire and then be left trying to find somebody.

Second, it just feels wrong to tell Jackson he has until Monday to make a decision — his agent had taken a red eye out to Los Angeles for the Monday meeting — then turn around and make a midnight call on Sunday saying your are out. It’s not professional. Jackson’s agent agreed, saying that to Ramona Shelburne of

I still think D’Antoni over Jackson could be the right call for the Lakers, but they have handled this entire coaching change poorly.

  1. chargerdillon - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    It was always about the money. It always is about the money. It will ALWAYS be about the money.

    • paleihe - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:27 PM

      That’s usually the case, but not when it comes to the Lakers.

      This is more likely regarding power within the organization. If the reports are correct, and Phil wanted part ownership, more say in personnel, it’s not surprising that the Lakers didn’t hire him. He’s not bigger than the organization, and this is their way of letting him know that.

    • davidly - Nov 13, 2012 at 7:58 AM

      Is there any other team in the league that would’ve paid D’Antoni as much money as the Lakers just did?

      • weareluckytohavemikeflorio - Nov 13, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        the Knicks

    • lawrinson20 - Nov 13, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      I thought, with the potential new cable and satellite deals for the Lakers, that a Phil hire would have brought the Lakers significantly more money than D’Antoni.

      Not to mention the administration’s certain confidence that a championship would be more easily attained by a coach who was already familiar with the LA landscape and personnel, and had done it many times in the past.

      This was more about clashing personalities and power than about money. And, as someone who was recently in a professional environment with an absolutely insufferable colleague, I can say, “I understand” the need to hire the ‘compromise’ coach rather than re-initiate a bad relationship.

  2. cakemixa - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    Who releases a statement about their non-hiring? Talk about narcissistic.

    • manchestermiracle - Nov 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM

      Yeah, ’cause telling your own side of a convoluted fubar decision by Jimbo is just not done. Right?

    • lawrinson20 - Nov 13, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      When people actually care about what you have to say and the things you’re doing, it seems quite reasonable for a public figure to ‘release a statement’ about a news event. It’s not like the press was just going to never mention it. So, yeah — you set your position, for the record, rather than have people misinterpret and speculate about the matter.

  3. joshm5683 - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    I’m ok with my Lakers hiring D’ Antoni but it does make me sad how Phil was treated in this situation. I agree it was the Lakers decision and maybe this group of personnel does fit with Mike’s system better than Phil’s, but at the very least you can be professional about it. Best of luck to whatever Phil does and hopefully this doesn’t put Phil in FU mode and take over the Clippers at a huge discount just to spite the Lakers.

    • cosanostra71 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      Yeah, I am not happy about the way way they treated him as well. It’s one thing to not hire him, but it’s another to go back on your word. I like that Jim Buss has been able to continue to bring in good players (Dwight, Nash, Jamison) but there are a lot of things about his reign so far that are different. There is still a lot of good things going on, but definitely more questionable decisions than in the past.

      • manchestermiracle - Nov 13, 2012 at 11:28 AM

        Mitch Kupchak brought in those players. Kupchak is the GM. Jimbo is a wanna-be executive who, so far, has shown an utter lack of ability in the world of pro basketball.

  4. money2long - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    the lakers are really a movie

    • tfoz5150 - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      No they are a joke in how their fans are trying to somehow spin that they are happier with Dantoni, when all day the past two days they were all high fiving each other that Jackson was a slam dunk.

      • mytthor - Nov 13, 2012 at 12:54 AM

        Why are the Lakers a joke based on how their fans behave?

      • davidly - Nov 13, 2012 at 7:59 AM

        Because it makes you laugh.

  5. dls612 - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    Wow! Classy move Lakers organization! That Damn Kobe is rubbing off on the front office! It’s CONTAGIOUS!

  6. schlom - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    According to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski Phil’s primary motivation was to stick it to Jim Buss:–lakers-resist-phil-jackson-s-power-grab-11051709.html

    • zerole00 - Nov 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      It’s not hard to see why, the younger Buss is trying to make a name for himself and did it by purging the organization of Jackson’s talents. From what I remember, he even fired the cameraman. WTF?

      Besides, Jackson’s already stuck it to one Buss sibling (literally), he’s just going for a twofer.

  7. progress2011 - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:36 PM


    What a friggin “soap opera” …..As The Fakers Turn !!! ahahahah

    1. Brown paid up for the next 3 years drinking 50 yr old Scotch.
    2. Jackson mad, cause he was left at the altar
    3. Fakers have one of the worst benches and defense in the league
    4. They hire D’antoni….who has ZERO clue about coaching a defense
    5. The Faker organization have no respect for nobody. Make a promise to the most successful coach in history and then backdoor the guy….ahahaha

    I predicted they would be a 3 seed AT BEST….Ya’ll might not make the friggin playoffs….ahahahahaha

    I gotta go order more Salt…I think I might be able to rub more into those gaping wounds that will be opening up! ahahahaha

    • cosanostra71 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      its sad how some people root more against the success of other teams than they do FOR the success of their own.

      • tfoz5150 - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:24 PM

        Welcome to the world of the Philadelphian

      • manchestermiracle - Nov 13, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        That’s what happens when you spend your rooting life behind a team that has won nothing lately, while a much more successful franchise plays in half the finals in league history.

    • paleihe - Nov 12, 2012 at 11:11 PM

      How can you call a team that’s been to the finals seven times since 2000 “Fakers”? And they’ve won five of them. Since Buss took over the franchise, they’ve been to the finals basically every other year.

      You’re clearly a very delusional person.

      • progress2011 - Nov 12, 2012 at 11:53 PM


        You haven’t been around long enough for me to wast time educating you on all the reasons why L.A. and the Fakers are plastic. If you are still around next week, I may feel inclined to bring the elementary book back out.

        For now, just read the posts until it’s nap time.

      • cosanostra71 - Nov 13, 2012 at 12:11 AM

        The “Fakers” may be “plastic” but that plastic has won 5 championships since 2000. Deal with it… “pal”.

      • paleihe - Nov 13, 2012 at 2:52 AM

        LOL. You’re using the ‘noob’ argument? Ha ha.

        Well, whether you care to explain your position or not really doesn’t matter. If you don’t like the Lakers, I understand. But to say that they’re the “Fakers” is beyond ridiculous. And if you’re being honest with yourself, you know you’re talking outta your ass.

      • progress2011 - Nov 13, 2012 at 5:35 AM

        71 yr old dude,

        I reference history for historical purposes…

        BUT I live in the PRESENT…..and what is presently on tap, today is:

        The Fakers won’t SNIFF a CHIP !

        Deal with the PRESENT…..ahahahaha

      • paleihe - Nov 13, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        So if the Lakers don’t win a championship this year, you’ll consider this year a success for your team? LOL.

        That’s an interesting way to gauge success.

        You clearly don’t have a rational way of communicating, so I’ll just stop going back and forth with you. I wish your team much success.

  8. savvybynature - Nov 12, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Way to scorn a legend and a guy who helped you win 5 titles. Kind of harsh.

    You think he’ll get an apology statue like Kareem did?

    • eugenesaxe - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:41 PM

      He’s got the owner’s daughter, that’ll do.

      • 00maltliquor - Nov 13, 2012 at 2:52 AM

        That’s gotta make for one weird, uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner. Can you see good ol’ Jimmy asking Phil to pass the gravy?!

        I wonder if Jeanie’s pissed at her brother and gave him an earfull this morning.

  9. dwirk - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Obviously the lakers were interested but how dedicated is a guy that didn’t want to take certain road trips or shoot arounds with the team? For the amount of money he supposedly would have made, you’re either all in or not at all

  10. lakerluver - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    I’ll just be glad when D’Antoni can begin coaching and the LAKERS can move past Brown and Phil. I wanted PJ but what’s done is done. I agree with you, Kurt, the LAKERS might’ve made the best choice.

    • loungefly74 - Nov 12, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      had my heart set on PJ…but hey, D’Antoni is acceptable.

      • 00maltliquor - Nov 13, 2012 at 3:10 AM

        Me thinks so too.

        I went from “no way Phil gets out of retirement” to “oh snap, it’s getting serious, maybe he would” to “ahhh, I don’t want him anyways, don’t want to hear all these trolls say Kobe couldn’t get it done without Phil and/or Phil always walks into pre-made championships, just add water” to ” F YEAAAAAH, PHIL’S COMING BACK, PUT #17 IN THE BOOKS!!!” to getting woken up at 6:30 in the morning with the news of D’Antoni.

        To say it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions from the Mike B firing to the Mike D hiring isn’t saying enough. But after I got over the initial shock and dissapointment, I got to thinking and I got to say, I’m pretty happy. Showtime is back baby! I LOVE PJ but to be brutaly honest, I HATED having to watch the triangle. Such a boring offense. Same thing with the Princeton, but 5 times worse.

        Now I’m going to actually have fun, maybe we even start to cover spreads and not always make every dang game such a nail biter. It always seems like the Lakers play down to the level of their competition and it always goes down to the wire, no matter who they play. It sucks being a Laker fan and putting money on the other team they play beacuse you know they’ll win, but not cover the dang spread. So frustrating.

  11. paulhargis53 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Your opinion is worthless lakerluver/bozosforall. They could hire Jack Nicholson to coach and you’d claim what a genius idea it was.

    You’re such a delusional homer.

    I think the PBT nation will want to erect a statue in my honor when you’re finally gone off of this site.

    Enjoy your time here while you can sh*tweasel. It’s coming to an end very soon.

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 13, 2012 at 3:57 AM

      paul, I KNOW you had to have taken the biggest sigh of relief when you found out Phil got brushed aside for Mike D’Antoni. I KNOW it! You were sweating bricks last night, bet you anything.

  12. acdc84 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    How do u take “take the red eye” from the east coast to the west coast?

    • manchestermiracle - Nov 13, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      “Red eye” is generally meant to apply to any flight taking place in the wee hours of the morning. Back in the day nobody slept on a loud, bouncing airplane (they couldn’t climb above weather systems like today), thus you arrived red-eyed from lack of sleep. Direction has nothing to do with it.

  13. paulhargis53 - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Ask lakerluver he might know….oh wait, he takes it in the brown eye….nevermind. Carry on.

  14. raidmagic - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:40 PM


  15. eugenesaxe - Nov 12, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    Handshakes just make it easier to stab you in the back. If it isn’t on paper, it’s worthless.

  16. glink123 - Nov 12, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Jackson is 6’9″, played a decade in the Association, has two artificial hips, and one replacement knee. You all act like his request to not fly back-to-back-to-back on an airplane is some sort of lack of commitment. It’s just an old man with bad knees, a bad back, and bad hips, just trying to make his old bones last through the season. Give him a break already.

  17. e39er - Nov 12, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    Never did understand using Fakers to describe the Lakers…nothing fake about the championships with that said lets be real i can coach this time and they will make the playoffs…anyone saying they won’t make it into the post season is delusional…winning the chip is a whole other matter, I’m really disappointed in how Jim Buss is running this organization now…no sense of direction and lots of hasty decisions which is the complete opposite of what the Lakers have been for the past 30 years….I’m just glad this drama is over and so we can get back to basketball

    • uscthom78 - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:23 PM

      1. Fake franchise. The franchise belongs in Minnesota.
      2. There are hardly any if any lakes in Los Angeles.
      3. Hollywood, filled with posers.

      it goes on and on.

      • uscthom78 - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:41 PM

        Fake job offers.

      • 00maltliquor - Nov 13, 2012 at 3:24 AM

        Ok uscthorn,

        Screw that nonsence with that 1, 2, and #3, but I must admit, I busted up loud with that fake jobs offers bit. hehehe

      • davidly - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:07 AM

        Good points, really. Also:
        – Los Angeles wouldn’t even have any water, let alone lakes if it weren’t for a quintessentially shady deal that makes anything but ecological sense.
        – The city is primarily known for the business of pretending you’re somebody you’re not.

      • davidly - Nov 13, 2012 at 8:09 AM

        Still, I wouldn’t mind visiting there some day. And I hear their hamburgers are so real as to make a veggie like me fall off the wagon for ’em.

    • tfoz5150 - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM

      its just beginning with this coach

  18. loungefly74 - Nov 12, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    it has been a rollercoaster ride. well…for all its ups and downs…having D’Antoni is better than Brown.

  19. metalhead65 - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    stop crying phil either you wanted the job or not and if you wanted you did not need a deadline to say yes and iron out the details. your just pissed because they did not bow down to your overray=ted zen self. yea I know 11 rings big deal let me know the name of the sorry team he took over and built instead of taking over teams that included at least 2 hall of famers.

  20. choppa2lis - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    why wasnt snoop dogg offered the coaching job? isnt it the law in all sports that if you fire a black coach, you have to hire another black coach or you are deemed a racist. why isn’t that being said in this case?

  21. tomtravis76 - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    What this really says is that Phil Jackson is not done coaching.

    There might be one Russian billionaire who is willing to do whatever it takes to win an NBA title in NY. Who knows maybe Phil will get to coach the greatest of this era in Brooklyn, if Lebron opts out.

  22. iamjimmyjack - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    As a laker fan I am really disappointed in the team as well as the shoddy journalism that twisted the truth and promoted lies. I wish Phil the best and hope mike d can do the job that Phil would of done. It’s championship or bust as always with this team.

  23. huskersrock1 - Nov 12, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Jackson – I want a hamburger, I want a Malt, French Fries…..

    Lakers – You’ll get nothing and like it!

  24. bengzki - Nov 12, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    Clippers though is still available ^_^

  25. jayquintana - Nov 12, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    Jimmy Buss is out of his depth. It’s absurd that he’s running a billion dollar sports franchise. Then again, I’m glad he chose to get into sports and not politics.

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