Jeanie Buss, Lakers executive vice president, with companion and former… (Vince Bucci / Getty Images…)
The Lakers underwent a swift coaching change from Phil Jackson to Mike Brown.
The difference? Oh, there's plenty. The Lakers scrapped the triangle offense for a more traditional one. Brown held longer practices and film sessions. The Lakers no longer followed Jackson's practice customs, such as team meditations, book assignments or annual excorcisms. While Jackson offered plenty of zings and opinions about players, the front office, league issues and the media, Brown mostly resorted to coaching cliches.
Jackson's take on the Lakers will emerge in the next few months, though. Jeanie Buss, Lakers executive vice president and Jackson's longtime companion, said his book titled "Eleven Rings" likely will come out next April.
Jackson's last book about the Lakers, titled "The Last Season," drew noticeable attention for his brutal honesty about his time as the team's head coach during the 2003-04 campaign. He called Kobe Bryant "uncoachable," and asked General Manager Mitch Kupchak to trade him. Jackson detailed the extent of the Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal feud. He even explained what led to his departure after the Lakers lost in the 2004 NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons.
Will this become a worthy followup?
The Lakers have always presented a never-ending soap opera, but there's now one key figure missing that helped contribute to it.
"Phil is always a quotable guy," Buss said with a smile. "He keeps everyone entertained. But I haven't read any part of the book. I have no idea what will be interesting or not. But he never fails to get everyone to think about different subjects."
Jackson would have plenty of material to dive into regarding the last few Lakers seasons. How would he explain the Lakers losing in a four-game sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Confernece semifinals? Did he really feel like a lame duck? How did he feel taking a paycut after helping the Lakers win back-to-back championships? What did he think of the Lakers hiring Brown over his top assistant and heir apparent Brian Shaw?
Jackson has mostly kept a low profile, spending time between his lakeside home in Montana and living with Buss in Los Angeles. But Jackson granted an extended interview to HBO Real Sports in which he lamented the Lakers giving Andrew Bynum a large role because it disrupted the team's "symmetry." He also agreed with the premise that Jim Buss tried to rid the organization of everything associated with Jackson.
Even if the pending excerpts might suggest otherwise, Buss said Jackson's work will encompass more things in his 19-year coaching career beyond the Lakers.
"He talks about all the different championships he won," Buss said of Jackson, who compiled 11 NBA titles, 13 NBA Finals appearances and 229 playoff wins. "Each one is different. Each journey is different."
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