Phil Jackson is often regarded as one of the greatest basketball coaches in NBA history. With 11 Championships and over 500 career wins, it's easy to see why.
Looking beyond the numbers, Phil was a guy who could not only manage big personalities but also one who would motivate his players in ways that brought out their best.
After losing the 2008 Finals to the Celtics, the coaching legend used the defeat as motivation for his Lakers team in the following years, where they'd redeem themselves with titles in 2009 and 2010. ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan told the story on The Ringer podcast with Bill Simmons.
“In 2008, when they were taking that beating, remember Phil was standing with his arms folded? He didn’t do anything, he didn’t change anything. He claims years later to me he knew they couldn’t win that series. And he wanted them to feel the humiliation of it, and he wanted to use it for the next two years to motivate them to go back to the Finals and beat the Celtics again. It happened in 2010. He claims all he had to do was mention that.”
In case you're living under a rock, the Lakers and Celtics have a fierce rivalry that spans back decades. When they met in 2008, it was the ultimate showdown of strength that both teams were desperate to win.
KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen proved to be too much for the Lakeshow in their first meeting in '08, losing in a hard-fought six-game series. For the next two years, Phil would apparently use that loss (which was still simmering in their minds) to push them for redemption. The Purple and Gold would win the Chip in 2009 against Orlando, but their greatest victory came against Boston that year after.
Needless to say, Phil knew what buttons to push, and he wasn't afraid to push them. It was a simple method, but undeniably effective.