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Kobe Bryant wants to give Phil Jackson one more title as parting gift

He acknowledges the importance of winning it all this year 'to send him off in the right way.' Jackson reiterates he will be done coaching after this season: 'There's no "maybe." '

January 27, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan

Month by month, Phil Jackson's departure from the Lakers draws closer and closer. One particular player is finding a way to turn it into a positive.

Kobe Bryant doesn't need any added motivation, but he acknowledges the importance of winning one more championship under Jackson.

"Yeah, for me especially because we've been together for so long," Bryant said. "I'm going to make sure I do everything in my power to send him off in the right way."

Jackson, 65, reiterated Thursday that he would be done coaching after this season. He said that last season was a "maybe" as far as retirement, but "this year, there's no 'maybe.' "

He then joked he would find a way to stay in the spotlight: "I'm actually going to have a press conference once every two months just to kind of feel right. Maybe like Jerry [West], just getting it out."

West recently made headlines by saying at an Orange County auto show that the Lakers' defense looked slow and old.

Bryant didn't want to peer too far into Jackson's departure after 11 seasons with the Lakers, five of which have ended in championships.

"It'll be a sad day, but I'm sure I'll get together with him and go fly-fishing at some point," Bryant said.

Later Thursday, at a dinner event sponsored by the L.A. Sports and Entertainment Commission, Jackson talked about losing touch with younger players.

"That hasn't quite happened, but my hip-hop isn't quite happening," he said in front of about 600 people.

During an interview at the event with FSN West's Bill Macdonald, Jackson said he felt the need to finally disengage from an NBA schedule.

"I've had my life organized [annually] for 265, 270 days," he said. "Sometimes it gets a little bit weary."

Would assistant coach Brian Shaw be a good choice as a successor?

"I don't want to put pressure on Brian or Dr. [Jerry] Buss, but I will say this, people around the league respect Brian and he's going to get a job somewhere if he doesn't with the Lakers," Jackson said. "Brian's a really good communicator and I think his basketball knowledge is impeccable."

Labor strife?

Even if Jackson's not coaching next season, he's hopeful that NBA team owners and players will reach agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The current agreement expires June 30, and there have been ominous tones about a delayed start to the season or, worst-case scenario, no season at all.

Jackson, however, sounded optimistic about the bigger picture despite mentioning that numerous teams had been projected to lose money.

"I think there's going to be a season," he said. "I'm hopeful … by October."

No practice

Bryant's brief string of practices has come to an end … for now.

He participated in scrimmages a few weeks ago to jump-start the team after a listless stretch, but he recently went back to the sidelines during practices.

Bryant declined to comment on his practice plans.

Jackson hinted Bryant could return to practice if the team started slumping again.

Bryant has been efficient in his last eight games, making 55.3% of his shots and averaging 23.4 points and 6.4 assists.

Up next: Boston?

The Lakers play foundering Sacramento on Friday before their game Sunday against Boston, but they were talking about only one opponent Thursday.

"There's a gag order on us about Boston," forward Ron Artest said, without specifying who insisted on the gag order.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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