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. Why the 2015 NBA playoffs feel wide open – but probably shouldn’t

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    With most 2014 conference-finalists eliminated, Warriors are clear favorite

  2. PBT Extra: Houston, Dallas simply do not like each other

    Apr 18, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Their rivalry goes back until the Dwight Howard free agent recruitment. If not earlier.

  3. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: ‘There’s no more predictable team than the Rockets’

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 1 Getty Images

    Cuban also says of Houston: “that’s not a very good team over there.”

  4. PBT staff playoff predictions: Lots of Golden State love from us

    Apr 17, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Draymond Green, LeBron James AP

    Three PBT writers pick the Warrior to beat the Cavaliers in the Finals.

  5. PBT Extra: Injuries make Grizzlies, Trail Blazers series hard to predict

    Apr 17, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Marc Gasol Marc Gasol

    Wesley Matthews. Arron Afflalo. Nicolas Batum. C.J. McCollum. Chris Kaman. Mike Conley. Tony Allen. All injured.

  6. PBT Extra: Will Spurs depth, versatility prove too much for Clippers?

    Apr 17, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    I just think Doc Rivers the GM has tied the hands of Doc Rivers the coach too much — the Spurs versatility and depth gives Gregg Popovich more options.

  7. PBT Extra: Anthony Davis, Pelicans made playoffs. Will they get a fifth game vs. Warriors?

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    It’s great to see Anthony Davis on the playoff stage for the first time. Even if it doesn’t last long.

  8. PBT Awards: All-NBA

    Apr 17, 2015, 1:11 PM EDT

    NBA All-Star Game 2015 Getty Images

    Four of five first-team spots are unanimous

  9. Rumor: LaMarcus Aldridge more likely to leave Trail Blazers in free agency than people realize

    Apr 17, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyson Chandler AP

    That may be true, but he’s still likely to stick in Portland

  10. PBT Awards: MVP

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT

    Serbia v USA - 2014 FIBA World Basketball Championship Getty Images

    The 3-1 edge goes to…

Featured video

Can Boston put a scare in Cleveland?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5482)
  2. L. James (5286)
  3. C. Parsons (5208)
  4. P. George (4835)
  5. D. Rose (4795)
  1. R. Westbrook (4643)
  2. M. Conley (4643)
  3. K. Bryant (4410)
  4. S. Curry (4398)
  5. M. Gasol (4209)