Phil Jackson was not selected as the Lakers head coach despite being the… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was sleeping comfortably Saturday night when the phone rang. It was the Lakers. They delivered stunning news. Mike D'Antoni got the job, not him.
Jackson told his side of the story in a statement Monday.
“Saturday morning, [Lakers executive] Jim Buss called to ask if he could come and visit. I didn’t solicit or ask for the opportunity but I welcomed both him and [team executive] Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as head coach," Jackson said.
“We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday [today] to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who encouraged my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility."
D'Antoni signed a three-year, $12-million deal late Sunday night.
Jackson's agent, Todd Musburger, added that media coverage portraying Jackson as being full of demands was inaccurate.
Some Internet reports stated that Jackson wanted more front-office power and wanted to skip large swaths of road games this season.
"No discussion of those ideas being contractual terms or demands was ever made," Musburger said. "They had a full discussion of the club, the roster, the schedule, assistants, etc. But to allow someone either on their side or on D’Antoni’s side to make these allegations -- unsubstantiated and incorrect -- and incorrectly maligning Phil is so objectionable to us that the process would have concluded this way."
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