Phil "Legend in his own mind" Jackson
The man who broke up the Bulls' dynasty
How about Phil "The Phool" Jackson — the mega-hippie/zen master/mental game expert? He repeatedly bashed his boss in 1997 and 98. He pouted because he couldn’t pick out his assistant coaches. Why did he take two of these assistants with him to Los Angeles?
Don’t forget that in 1986, nobody in the NBA was interested in hiring Phil Jackson as even an assistant coach. Only one man had the insight – Jerry Krause. He hired Phil the Phool when everybody else wrote him off as a hippie-burnout. He made him an assistant to then coach Doug Collins. I bet Phil didn’t complain back then that Krause chose the assistant coaches? And who exactly were these duds that Krause was putting on the Chicago bench?
It’s easy to see (cough, cough) why Phil the Phool would be upset with this bunch of dimwits. Upset enough to hire two of them.
Phil the Phool claimed that Krause was trying to push him out the door so that he could hire his fishing buddy, Tim Floyd. Phil the Phool went so far as to be immature and unprofessional and call Floyd by a childish and inappropriate nickname "Pink Floyd." Doug Collins claimed back in 1988 that Phil the Phool was trying to take his job. Now, could Phil the Phool be slightly paranoid? Both he and Collins were successful coaches, yet both claimed their jobs were in danger. Make no mistake – under Collins, the Bulls saw improvement, going from 30-52 the year before Collins took over to 50-32 in 2 seasons, and advancing each year in the playoffs, from a first round sweep to a 2-4 loss in the conference finals.
The fact is, Floyd was hired for a different role. Krause had to sign him before the college basketball season started. If Phil the Phool pouted and quit, like he would go on to do, then Krause would have his next coach in place. If Phil had the courage to stay, Floyd would have carried on the duties he was hired for.1 Remember, Floyd would not move into Phil the Phool’s office until Phil the Phool quit. The fact is, our heroes wanted Phil the Phool to coach the 1999 Bulls. Reinsdorf tried one last desperate time to get Phil to sign an extension, but Phil pouted and quit.
Why was Phil really sulking? Krause wanted Phil the Phool to sign a multi-year deal and oversee the eventual rebuilding. Jordan could not play forever, nor could they keep the dynasty alive forever, due to age and contracts. They could keep it together for a year or two more, but then the age and defections would catch up with them. To ask Phil the Phool to oversee the rebuilding, was a display of great confidence in his ability from his supposed enemy who hired him. However, Phil the Phool did not want to hurt his precious winning percentage. He knows his hippie philosophies only work when the player hearing them is Michael Jordan or Shaquille O’Neal. Phil the Phool simply cannot turn a team around or build a winning teams from the ground up. He is no Krause. He is no Larry Brown. He is no Greg Popovich. He is no Rudy Tomjanovich. He lived off of Krause and Doug Collins’ work, just as he has benefited from Jerry West and Del Harris’ hard work in Los Angeles.
Our heroes tried to convince Phil the Phool to come back, so that they might make another run at a championship. They knew that another championship run depended solely on Phil the Phool. Michael Jordan said that he would not play for any other coach but Phil the Phool. Even though our heroes tried their best to bring Phil the Phool back, Phil the Phool took the coward's path and walked away. It was Phil the Phool who turned his back on Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and even Jud Bucheler. It was Phil the Phool who broke up the Bulls’ dynasty, not our two selfless heroes.
1 "Our first priority has always been getting Michael Jordan back. Our second priority was to find a solid coach for the future. As we talked with Tim Floyd about the coaching job, we all agreed that none of us wanted to do anything that would jeopardize the return of Michael Jordan or any of his teammates. Tim said he would not feel comfortable accepting the head coaching job if it would in any way impede Michael's return. We all agreed that bringing Tim Floyd on board as Director of Basketball Operations would serve the best interest of the Bulls in the short-term and the long- term. Tim will become head coach at some future date. This allows him to get to work immediately. But, this also allows the Bulls flexibility to work with Michael if he chooses to continue playing basketball." -- Jerry Reinsdorf. 7/23/99