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Phil Jackson Boasts with Special Red Auerbach X Hat for 10 Titles

With a 99-86 win in Game 5, the Lakers won their 15th NBA championship in franchise history. The series win gave coach Phil Jackson his record 10th title — six with the Bulls and four with the Lakers. Jackson now stands ahead of Red Auerbach who had won nine NBA titles, and he wore a hat at the post-game ceremony to commemorate his career. Check out the Roman Numberal “X” hat representing Phil’s 10 titles.

It was yellow with purple stitching to represent the Lakers’ colors and it had the years of each title on the sides of the cap. Phil said his kids made the hat for him and even though he was deflecting the blame to them, there’s no doubt he was boasting by putting it on as soon as he won. He didn’t need to do that but you can understand why he was proud. My guess is this is the last game he ever coaches because of his deteriorating health (have you seen him try to move around since the hip replacement surgery?).

Now the obvious question that comes up is how good of a coach is Phil? Stan Van Gundy says that Phil’s accomplishments are incomprehensible which is pretty true. Given the right situation though, some coach in the future could approach his numbers — say Mike D’Antoni should LeBron, Wade and Amare all go to the Knicks or something like that. But the question about Phil isn’t easily answered. The guy definitely picked his spots and wasn’t great enough to make the difference last year when the Lakers lost to the Celtics. He’s good enough to find the right situations and know when he needs to step in and when he needs to get out of the way. But even if the 10 rings suggest something else, I’d still have a hard time saying that he’s the greatest coach in the game when a guy like Gregg Popovich is around. Bottom line: you need excellent players to win, and Phil was always good enough to get them to win regardless of what he did or didn’t do.


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  • Anders(on) Varejao

    Does Gregg Popovich not have great players? He has the greatest PF of all time.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Yup, he does, and they’re in the same category. I should have included my namesake in the discussion considering he’s the only coach I can think of who won an NBA title without any great players on the roster. Five very good players, none of whom were great — that’s impressive.

  • Victoria Smith

    The hat Phil wore was actually a gift from his agent, Todd Musburger. Mr. Musburger designed the hat and had it made especially for Phil. He gave it to Phil after the win.

  • Kevin

    Popovich is a good coach. But to just throw him into the debate about the greatest coach of all time? That’s just personal bias mixed with a little desperation. Jackson gets to be in the debate based solely on winning more than anyone else. Auerbach will always be in the debate. Larry Brown was a one hit wonder (that his team of 5 non-stars beat a team of 4 HOF’ers in 2004 was more a product of the Lakers painfully obvious disjointedness than it was great coaching) who rubbed 80% of those he coached or worked for the wrong way. Anyone who watched basketball for more than 2-3 years this decade knows Larry Brown is nowhere near the best. And as Larry knows all too well, no one cares who earns the bronze.

    Lets keep this debate honest and respectable. At the very least.

  • Gene

    I think people get “most successful” mixed up with “greatest”. Jackson and Auerbach are the most successful. That does not mean they are the greatest. Each of them did it with players who were the most dominating of their times. They delivered more times than not, and thus are the most successful.

    I seriously doubt that Auerbach and/or Jackson could have taken the Pistons to the title like Larry Brown did. I also saw Jackson fall short when Michael Jordan went to play basketball, and Auerbach had no secrets when Bill Russell wasn’t playing.

    To put Tim Duncan, a guy I admire a lot, in the same dominating category as Bill Russell or Michael Jordan and Shaq/Kobe is ridiculous.

  • Kevin

    I’m putting Tim Duncan in the same category as Bill Russell and Shaq. And there’s nothing ridiculous about it… unless success is your only measuring stick…which you clearly stated was not the case.

  • JV

    phil is the best there is. he is a manager, a leader a coach..is there a an nba coach who does that. i can only see that trait with top CEOs all over the world. he is not limited to Xs and Os. he visualize things, larry brown cmon you know better than your article. alot of old coaches envy phil bec he was the fastest to reach goals and milestones as compared to the veteran nba coaches. he made a difference to the people that he coached and handled asked jordan, especially dennis rodman is there an nba coach that could make rodman a follower? even ur popovich cant get the respect from rodman the bottom line is Phil is way ahead, thats why he is called a Zen master. try to meditate and visualize things larry you’ll see what i am talking about. God has given phil that gift to change their lives.

    he is not only coaching, but he motivates them, physches them when its needed, he knows what makes up a basketball championship caliber team he doesnt picks his spots rather he jsut knows what are the components of a team on how to win an nba championship consistently. its just plain and simple , he has the ability to make the best out of the person especially with role players or 2nd stars or 3rd stars in the team.

    with due respect to popovich he is good , no doubt about that but he cant even do a repeat. what phil did is right to boast at the same time to credit his players thats a true leader should always do. i admire also stan van gundy who is better than larry brown as well he was able to reach the finals with not only with Xs and Os, as you heard their huddles , he tries to motivates them, and was courageous enough to take the blame he did not blame his players at some point he did , but at the end of the day he blamed himself bec he was the leader.

    about your argument that mike d antoni can reach phils plateau i doubt it. it wont happen, even he got the trio you mentioned he will get some rings but he wont reach to ten. bec phil imagine things, meditates, visualize no other nba coach does that in the NBA.

    bottom line is Phil Jackson is the greatest simply because he is more than just X’s and O’s, he is more than basketball . he inspires change especially with the behavior of his players. NBA players are all good thats why they reach the NBA, its how you make them change, its how you make them do the things what they are capable of doing.

  • Jeff J

    Can someone who is saying certain coaches are successful but not the greatest please explain to me the difference between the most “successful” coach and the “greatest” coach.

    Guess what, there is no difference. If your teams win 10 championships, you are both the greatest and most successful, as the goal of a season is to win a championship, plain and simple. Phil Jackson’s teams have won more championships than not only any other coach in Basketball, but more than any other organized sport.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Phil appeared to maximize his talented rosters but remember he also lost twice in the finals, last year to Boston and five years ago to Larry Brown’s Detroit team. Phil had one of the most accomplished starting fives that year. The 10 championships is a heck of an accomplishment but it does not make him bullet proof. If that’s all we’re looking at then there’s only one great coach per season, even in years when Pop, Phil, Riley, etc are all coaching, when in reality all of them are great. Pop hasn’t ever lost in the Finals and Brown won with one of the least talented groups. You can find holes in everyone’s resume, I’m just saying that because Phil’s won the most doesn’t mean we should ignore other coaches who have done great things too.

  • JV

    all the coaches you’ve mentioned are all great but phil is on top of them pop,riley,brown those are great coaches, no doubt about that. Nobody is bullet proof in the game of basketball bec things change in a matter of split second even referees they can’t change the outcome of the game but to do it consistently, also with nba players. To go to the finals 12 times and win 10 times cmon…it means sumthing..theres sumthing in him. players to say that they love their man and they are willing to die for him. not only superstars in his team even the role players love him. it means he did sumthing different out there. Coaches have diff styles, just like leaders the bottom line is consistency, to be that consistent it makes him the greatest.

    in my opinion, as a fan of the game of basketball since i was born. here is my top list of the best coaches in the NBA.

    Phil Jackson
    Gregg popovich
    Red Auerbach
    Larry Brown
    Pat Riley
    Cuck Daly

    good coaches: Mike d antoni,stan van gundy,rick adelman

    worst coach that i have ever seen : Mike Brown

    one more thing we are not ignoring the success and the greatness of other coaches who made a difference in this sport, its just They won and its their moment now. Thats the reason for this article in the first place.

  • Jeff J

    The question isn’t bullet proof, its the greatest ever. No coach is bullet proof.

    Pop might not have lost in the finals, but 2000-2002 his team lost to the Lakers 4-0 and 4-1.

    The team in Detroit under Larry Brown least talented? Billups, Rip, Tayshaun, Rasheed and Ben Wallace. Far from least talented finals team. I would say the least talented was the 1977-78 Bullets who won the NBA championship even though they only had a season record of 44-38.

    Also Red won all his championships when there wasn’t the talent like there is now in the NBA. For one coach to win 10 championships in today’s NBA is unheard of.

  • JV

    forgot to add jerry sloan as one of the best out there, again its just my opinion hehe!!

  • SpinMax

    No mention of those titles in 00 and 02 not exactly being legit because 2 of the worst fixed games in NBA history? Fakers should not have made the finals either of those two years. I don’t think Red or Scotty Bowman ever had that kind of help.

  • Foster Keats

    This trend is the worst wever… Kobe’s 4 titles t-shirt, baseball all star jerseys, alternative jerseys, all ways to SUCKER the fans into buying more CRAP…