Phil Jackson Had Cancer During 2011 Playoffs

While the Lakers were playing for the Playoff lives in 2011 head coach Phil Jackson was battling cancer.

The 11-time NBA champion opened up about his battle with prostate cancer in his new book 11 Rings. The book isn’t out for another few weeks but the OC Register has a few details about Jackson’s battle with cancer.

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register writes that Jackson was diagnosed with cancer in March of 2011. His doctors said that he could use various drugs to postpone the surgery until after the playoffs. Jackson didn’t want to distract the team with his health issues so he decided to wait until after the season was over to break the news to his players.

But once the Lakers were facing elimination, Jackson decided to try to motivate his players by telling him about his struggles.

Pau Gasol said: “Shocking … But then you also could understand certain moments of his demeanor, energy and involvement because of what he was going through health-wise. It explained certain things. It was a shock. A difficult moment for the team.”

The speech didn’t have the desired effect, the Lakers ended up getting knocked out in the first round, but it was definitely a memorable locker room moment.

Jackson retired following the 2011 season but the Hall of Fame coach is reportedly “itching” for another job in the NBA.

Phil Jackson’s new book 11 Rings will be released on May 21.