Skip to content

The time Phil Jackson asked then GM Jerry West to leave the Lakers locker room

Jun 17, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson answers questions at a post-game news conference following Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas Reuters

Phil Jackson is unquestionably one of the greatest coaches of all time, but he didn’t get there by placating people or considering the feelings of others — especially those with seniority or who were holding down a higher-level position within the organization.

Speaking at an event last week where Jackson was plugging his latest book, he recalled the time he asked then Lakers general manager Jerry West — also one of the franchise’s all-time great players — to leave the locker room so Jackson and the team could be alone to dissect the night’s troubles in private.

From Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

“The Lakers were really struggling, not enjoying playing together,” said Jackson. “The last five minutes of the game were arduous and painful — so I kicked everybody out of the locker room.

“Jerry and [then-assistant general manager] Mitch Kupchak would come into the locker room afterward … but I wanted it to be just us,” continued Jackson.  “So I asked everybody to leave and then I addressed the team and asked them what happened out there on the floor.”

“In the process, I know Jerry was hurt by me asking him to leave the room,” Jackson said. “It has always been what I’ve done any time it got intimate or personal, to ask people that were outside, trainers and ball boys in particular.”

Ouch.

This is believed to have occurred during the Lakers’ first run to a title under Jackson, in the Western Conference Finals back in 2000.

West is the farthest thing from a ballboy, obviously, and was right to have been offended at being excluded from the inner workings of the team. But that’s part of what made Jackson great, the ability to do what he thought was best for the teams he coached no matter who else stood in his way, or may have disagreed with his process in the slightest.

It’s also what made it so tough for the organization to consider bringing him back once they corrected the Mike Brown mistake early last season.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Former NBA player Rex Chapman arrested for stealing product from Apple store

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Rex Chapman, Ashley Judd Rex Chapman, Ashley Judd

    Chapman played four years for the Suns, and is facing charges in Scottsdale, AZ.

  2. Andrew Bogut is feeling healthy, takes charges on D at Warriors scrimmage

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Andrew Bogut AP

    Must-read quote from Bogut on how he does NOT want to be perceived.

  3. All PBT’s NBA team previews in one convenient spot

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7 Getty Images

    This post is here to make life easier for you when you want to find these at the end of the season and point out how wrong we were.

  4. UPDATED Report: Timberwolves make push for Eric Bledsoe, Suns not interested in sign-and-trade talks

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    It has to be a sign and trade and Minnesota doesn’t have a lot of leverage here.

  5. Jeff Green says he wants to be leader on Celtics this season

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Jeff Green AP

    “It was more just becoming a better all-around player, trying to take the next step and become a leader on this team and will my team to win.” —Jeff Green

  6. James Dolan enlists Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire to break world kazoo record

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:28 PM EDT

    dolan stoudemire anthony kazoo

    And you wonder why Phil Jackson is worth $12 million a year to the Knicks organization.

  7. Hawks’ Budenholzer adjusting to coach/GM role, had mentor for many years in Popovich

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Mike Budenholzer

    Budenholzer got thrust into a position with the power a lot of coaches covet.

  8. Cavaliers sign Lou Amundson

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

    Serge Ibaka, Lou Amundson Serge Ibaka, Lou Amundson

    Will he make Cleveland’s regular-season roster?

  9. LeBron James unveils latest signature shoe from Nike: The LEBRON 12

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    9.15.14 Nike LeBron 12 Launch

    Full recap from the launch event at Nike World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon, including technical information, details on colorways, and confirmed release dates.

  10. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Toronto Raptors

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven Getty Images

    Kyle Lowry and Co. return for another run

  11. Grizzlies sign Hassan Whiteside

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Rio Grande Valley Vipers vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants Rio Grande Valley Vipers vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants

    Former Kings draft pick joins three other players competing to make Memphis’ roster

  12. Miroslav Raduljica signs in China

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Miroslav Raduljica Miroslav Raduljica

    Raduljica, after solid rookie year, leaves NBA sooner than he’d hoped.

  13. Dwyane Wade credits David Stern’s dress code for improving his style

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Dwyane Wade AP

    “Then it became a competition amongst guys and now you really got into it more and you started to really understand the clothes you put on your body.” —Dwyane Wade

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2553)
  2. L. James (2418)
  3. R. Rondo (2329)
  4. K. Irving (2168)
  5. K. Bryant (2124)
  1. E. Bledsoe (1752)
  2. R. Allen (1633)
  3. D. Favors (1625)
  4. J. Valanciunas (1604)
  5. R. Gay (1543)