Skip to content

During 2011 playoffs, Phil Jackson told Lakers he had prostate cancer

Apr 28, 2013, 2:59 PM EDT

Phil Jackson Getty Images

The last time the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs (as could happen Sunday as the Lakers trail the Spurs 3-0) it was 2011, when the Lakers were the title defenders. The Dallas Mavericks made short work of Los Angeles in the second round (and went on to win a title). After that loss, Phil Jackson walked away from the Lakers as coach.

Trying to motivate his team during that playoffs Phil Jackson told the players he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

That was not made public at the time but is part of Jackson’s book “11 Rings” that comes out in May, and was reported now by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

Jackson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2011. After doctors assured him the cancer could be controlled by drugs temporarily, Jackson waited until after the season to undergo surgery.

Jackson decided to divulge his situation to his players when he sensed the team was lacking something in the playoffs.

“Shocking,” Pau Gasol said Saturday, remembering Jackson’s disclosure to the team. “But then you also could understand certain moments of his demeanor, energy and involvement because of what he was going through health-wise. It explained certain things. It was a shock. A difficult moment for the team.”

The revalaton may not have had the impact Jackson desired on his team — if you remember that series against Dallas the Lakers faded and got worse as it went on. The Lakers were overmatched that playoff run (they needed Andrew Bynum and didn’t have him, Kobe Bryant’s knee was gimpy) but that team just came apart and wasn’t disciplined at the end.

That revalation also explains part of why Jackson was ready to move on from the team at that point. There were certainly other factors involved, but he needed time to recover and recuperate.

That time off to get healthy (he had surgery but we don’t have a formal update on his status) would explain why he is ready to return to the game now — he feels like his old self. Not that he wants to coach, but a few teams are interested in him possibly taking on a team president kind of role.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Kobe Bryant was ‘very good’ in Lakers meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge, which went ‘really well’

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:26 AM EDT

    2015 BET Experience - Genius Talks Presented By AT&T Getty Images

    Lakers feel better about this one than previous meetings with Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

  2. Report: Heat, Goran Dragic agree to five-year deal worth $90 million

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:38 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Miami Heat Getty Images

    This was expected. But what happens with Dwyane Wade?

  3. Report: Bulls bringing back Mike Dunleavy on three-year deal worth $15 million

    Jul 1, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT

    Mike Dunleavy, James Harden AP

    Solid move by Chicago at an extremely reasonable price.

  4. Report: Cleveland Cavaliers reach out to veteran Tayshaun Prince

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Prince played better than you’d think last season, but he will turn 36 this coming year.

  5. Report: Kings aggressively pursuing Rajon Rondo

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans

    Does putting Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl in close proximity to each other for an entire NBA season seem like a good idea?

  6. Report: Nets reach deals to re-sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:12 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets- Game Four Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets- Game Four

    Lopez gets three years, $60 million; Young gets four years, $50 million.

  7. Report: Pacers pushing hard to sign Monta Ellis

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:58 AM EDT

    Monta Ellis Monta Ellis

    The Hawks, Nuggets and Kings are also interested.

  8. Report: Kevin Love to meet with Lakers later in week

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:13 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four Getty Images

    Love said he was committed to Cleveland, now he is flirting with other teams.

  9. Report: Wizards “increasingly optimistic” they can retain Paul Pierce

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six Getty Images

    The Clippers want him, but they have other, larger concerns.

  10. Reports: Warriors, Hornets both interested in Marco Belinelli

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:16 PM EDT

    belinelli AP

    It’s a deep pool of shooters in free agency.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (4342)
  2. D. Wade (4194)
  3. J. Embiid (3713)
  4. L. James (3542)
  5. K. Love (3071)
  1. K. Bryant (2946)
  2. D. Cousins (2923)
  3. J. Butler (2564)
  4. T. Harris (2487)
  5. K. Durant (2360)