Lakers’ Jackson Says 11th Coaching Title Helps Chance of Return

Phil Jackson
Head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles. Photographer: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Phil Jackson said the Los Angeles Lakers helped their chances of bringing him back as coach next season with a title win over the Boston Celtics.

Jackson, who made $12 million for the season that ended last night with the 83-79 home victory in Game 7 of the National Basketball Association Finals, isn’t under contract for 2010-11. The 64-year-old coach’s return has been a question all season, with team owner Jerry Buss wanting him to take a pay cut and Jackson, who extended his coaching championship record to 11, considering retirement.

“It does improve my chances,” Jackson said last night at a news conference when asked if the title improved the odds of his returning next season if asked back.

“I’ve got to take a deep breath,” Jackson said during the trophy presentation. “I’ve got to take some time and think about this. This was great. I’ll wait to make that decision in a week.”

There are 3-to-1 odds that Jackson retires, according to online gambling website, meaning a $100 bet would return $300 in profit and the original wager if he calls it a career. The odds on Jackson returning to Los Angeles are 1-to-3. Only two teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers, have coaching vacancies. The Cavaliers’ odds of landing Jackson are 8-1 and the Clippers’ 10-1.

Jackson, whose girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, is a Lakers executive and Jerry Buss’s daughter, said in May that a salary cut by the owner had been “indicated.” He declined to discuss specifics.

Three in Row

If Jackson does return to the Lakers next season, he’ll be trying to win a title in three straight campaigns for the fourth time in his 19-year career.

As coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 through 1998, the team led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen twice managed three-year title streaks. Jackson joined the Lakers in 1999 and won titles from 2000 through 2002 behind Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Last night’s victory marked another Lakers’ repeat, having knocked off the Orlando Magic a season ago. Bryant last night was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals for the second straight year. He said while accepting the honor that he wants Jackson to return.

“He knows how bad I want him back,” Bryant said. “I’ve told him that. I’ve been openly blunt about that and told him how much I want him back. Let’s go for it again. Let’s go for it again.”