Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson arrive at the Mirage Las Vegas Casino Night… (Vince Bucci / Getty Images…)
Jeanie Buss couldn't help but laugh. She's been Phil Jackson's longtime companion, yet she says she doesn't even know how much he'd want to coach in the NBA again.
"I can't answer that question," said Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president. "Only he can. Nobody's called him. Unless somebody calls, we won't know how to answer that question."
That uncertainty also applies to the New York Knicks after Coach Mike D'Antoni recently resigned. Jackson won 11 NBA championships, six with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Lakers. But he also won a title as a key reserve forward for the Knicks in 1973 and often credited former Knicks Coach Red Holzman for sparking his interest in coaching.
"Don't even go there," Buss said during halftime of the Lakers-Grizzlies game. "That's up to Phil. Whatever he does, he loves the game and he loves the guys that he's coached. That will never change."
Jackson sounded ready for retirement after the 2010-2011 season. He often lamented about the long NBA schedule and the constant travel. He also expressed concern about his health considering he's had both hips replaced and struggled walking. But Buss said Jackson has remained happy working on a basketball book due this fall, watching NCAA and NBA games and enjoying the comforts in living near the Southern California beaches.
Buss said he's paid particular close attention to Lakers games and teams that feature some of his former players, including Derek Fisher (Oklahoma City), Lamar Odom (Dallas), Trevor Ariza (New Orleans), Luke Walton (Cleveland), Ronny Turiaf (Miami) and, yes, even Vladimir Radmanovic (Atlanta).
"He's very positive about the Lakers and he's very happy with the way they're playing," Buss said. "It's important to him that for me, things are good. When the Lakers are winning, everything is smooth with business. He thinks they're playing good defense and likes all the new players. He's attached to the old ones, but he's impressed with the talent on this team.
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