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Mike D’Antoni: Phil Jackson will hang over the Lakers for next 10 to 15 years

Aug 26, 2013, 5:22 PM EDT

Former Los Angeles Lakers coach Jackson sits with Lakers Executive Vice President of Business Operations Buss during the NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles

It’s early in the 2027-28 season, and the Lakers have struggled to a 1-4 start.

The year before, an aging Kyrie Irving helped lead the Lakers to the North American Conference Finals, but they ran out of gas and were swept by Seattle. Still, the Lakers brought back their core, including Coach Monty Williams, who led the Lakers to championships in 2023 and 2024.

Suddenly, the Lakers look old, and fans are calling for Williams to be fired. Who’s their preferred replacement?

82-year-old Phil Jackson.

At least that’s whom Mike D’Antoni believes Lakers fans would want in that scenario. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

No, the specter of Phil Jackson never quite left the Lakers.

“I think anybody that comes in here the next 10, 15 years, it’s going to be that way,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t think there is any doubt that he was so good and so large and he’s still sitting out there.

“Had that bothered me, I shouldn’t have taken the job because you know it’s going to be there. I wasn’t stupid enough to think that, ‘Oh, they won’t remember him.’ Sure they will. It doesn’t really affect what we do day-to-day and how we approach the game.”

It’s really a credit to Jackson’s reputation that fans have largely forgotten about the end of his last tenure. In 2011, the Lakers self-destructed in a second-round sweep at the hands of the Mavericks. Maybe, just maybe, Jackson was too old to put the necessary energy into coaching.

Nah, nevermind. Just keep assuming for the next 15 years that Jackson will win his 12 championship as soon as a team hires him.

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