The Lakers coach doesn't believe his team, off to a 8-0 start entering Thursday's game at Denver, can win 70 games. But he believes Miami can.
"Well, it's not going to happen,'' Jackson said about the two-time defending champions winning 70 this season.
Jackson, whose 1995-96 Bulls went 72-10 and are the only team in NBA history to reach 70, was asked then if no team will reach that milestone in the foreseeable future.
"I think this Miami team could,'' Jackson said. "They're talented enough to do that. They're maybe not deep enough quite yet or have all their persons in place. But, if they stay together, they have a good chance. They have a very talented team.''
But the Heat this season are just 5-3?
"Those things will disappear,'' Jackson said. "You can have an eight-game winning streak any time.''
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said Jackson's talk is Phil being Phil.
"I don't say anything. I just agree with whatever Coach says,'' Bryant said. "You know Phil says stuff to stir the pot, man. Don't wrap me up with that (stuff). He said it. He'll stand by it.''
Bryant didn't want to speculate on whether the Lakers can win 70, which would top the franchise record of 69-13 set by the 1971-72 title team. But he did say all this recent talk about 70 wins resulted in a lost bet with Lakers strength coach Chip Schaefer.
"It happens ... every time a team starts 5-0 or 7-0,'' Bryant said about 70-win talk. "Me and Chip had a nice little bet about when that talk would start. Would it start after we went 6-0, 7-0, 8-0?''
As it turned out, the talk really got started after the Lakers walloped the Trail Blazers 121-96 last Sunday to get to 7-0. Bryant said Schaefer won the bet by predicting that record while Bryant had 8-0.
Like Bryant, Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons knows all about Jackson's motivational tactics.
"Well, put the pressure on them,'' Cleamons, an assistant on Jackson's 72-win team, said when told Jackson had said the Lakers won't win 70 games but Miami could.
So why doesn't Jackson believe the Lakers can get to 70?
"The schedules are too tough,'' Jackson said. "Travel is extenuating in the Western Conference. Very difficult time-zone changes that you go through. ... That's disregarding the idea that you can play with all your players for the rest of the season. Everything just has to break perfect for that to happen. Plus, a team has to be very, very resilient and very, very capable of filling in for one another at multiple positions.''
If it's so difficult, why were the Bulls, with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the way, able to do it 15 years ago?
"Everything just kind of broke right,'' Jackson said. "Chicago has a gift. Central time zone. All of their teams are in the East. You go play games at 6 o'clock your time and you're home at 10:30, 11 o'clock. You have a real comfortable schedule. And then you're in the middle of the country so your West Coast trips (are less difficult).''
Jackson also said that early in their record-setting season the Bulls got a lot of breaks with top players from other teams being out. And they were a team that was "very hungry.''
"I don't think so, I'll be honest with you,'' Cleamons said about this Lakers team getting to 70. "I don't think the guys have that kind of commitment night-in, night-out do that. ... It takes a special group. Michael's competitiveness. Scottie's competitiveness. (Dennis Rodman's) competitiveness. We had a bench that really understood how to play.
"Miami might be focused enough to do that, but I don't want to be burned out chasing 72. ... If (the Lakers) are in that range and we want to shoot for it, more power to (the players). But I'd much rather at the end of the year be world champions than win 70-plus games.''
Of course, Jackson did both in 1995-96. The Bulls romped to the NBA crown, Jackson's fourth of 11 titles, by going 15-3 in the playoffs.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson