Tip Off Timer: Title No. 10 Ended Debate Over Jackson's Place in History
Is Phil Jackson really the best basketball coach in history? Or is he just the luckiest coach for all the great players he has had?
The correct answer might be somewhere in between. Or he might be both.
You can't dispute that his 10 championships rings -- breaking his tie with the legendary Red Auerbach -- gives him the most impressive resume of anyone who ever coached in this league.
What is arguable is whether it came because he just had more talented players than anyone before him. Like the winning jockey in the Kentucky derby every year, he doesn't win the roses without the best horse beneath him.
Jackson won six titles in Chicago, all with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen both in their prime. He won three titles with the Lakers by riding burgeoning Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. While Jordan may be remembered as the greatest player in history, O'Neal and Bryant one day will be known as two of the top 10.
After nine championships for Jackson, the debate still was very much a good one. Points could be made both ways. There have been other coaches in the league who would tell you that Jackson didn't do anything that others could not have done.
When Jordan left to play baseball for two years, Jackson and the Bulls didn't get past the second round of the playoffs. And his first two years without Shaq in LA, Jackson didn't get past the first round.
Last season, though, was different. He didn't have two great players for his 10th title. He won it with just Kobe Bryant and a good supporting cast. For Bryant, it was satisfying to win without Shaq overshadowing him. For Jackson, there was satisfaction in knowing he didn't just ride on a pair of great horses. He had one ace like a lot of teams.
Because of age and his balky back, Jackson now travels with his own specially designed chair to sit on the sideline, putting him higher than anyone else on the floor. It makes him look like a king on his throne.
He should be enjoying the view this season.