Phil Jackson was reportedly shocked to learn that the Los Angeles Lakers had passed him up for their head coaching vacancy in favor of Mike D’Antoni after telling the team’s brass that he was up for the job.
As ESPN reported, Phil Jackson reportedly left a meeting with Lakers management over the weekend with the understanding that he would have until Monday to finalize his decision. Instead Jackson got a call close to midnight on Sunday from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak telling him that the team had chosen D’Antoni instead.
“The decision is of course theirs to make,” Jackson said in a statement. “I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker Fans who endorsed my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.”
Jackson’s agent, Todd Musburger, later told ESPN he believed that some of Jackson’s demands, including his travel schedule and control over personnel, were linked to the media, spoiling the deal.
“There were no demands, outrageous or otherwise,” Musburger said. “To say that he wanted control or that he wanted a zillion dollars or that he wanted equity, those were not topics discussed in the meeting between Kupchak, Buss and Phil. If the Lakers didn’t spread those things, the fact they didn’t take an affirmative stance to correct the record is very troublesome.”
Others were surprised with the hire of Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson. Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote that while D’Antoni has experience with an up-tempo offense, that isn’t really a great fit with the older Lakers.