Ahead of the 2022 All-Star weekend, legendary coach Phil Jackson was recently named as one of the top 15 greatest coaches in NBA history. As an 11x Champion over his tenure with the Bulls and Lakers, he helped lead two of the greatest dynasties in basketball.
Recently, Hall of Fame center Shaquille O'Neal got the chance to go into depth about the impact that Jackson had on his own game and reflected on some of the things that made the guy so great to play for.
Here's what he had to say:
"Phil was the one who gave me the blueprint on how to be more dominant than I already was. He also gave me the blueprint on how to be a Champion. What I loved about Phil is he was very, very fair. What I also loved about Phil is he was a player's coach. The way I played and the way I got played, he could tell the days I was banged up and he had enough respect to say 'okay, I'm not gonna press you hard today, ride the bike for 20 minutes but I need 30 from you big fella.' From being with him, I made up the quote 'if the general doesn't panic, the troops don't panic.'
I played for a lot of coaches where it gets real tight, they start panicking, but Phil would always just look at us and say I'm not gonna bail you out.. He would explain to us like men, rather than yelling and crying."
Phil Jackson enjoyed the luxury of coaching some amazing teams, but it was his leadership and guidance that helped the Bulls and Lakers reach their potential.
He knew how to get the best out of his stars and implemented strategies (like the triangle offense) that were revolutionary at the time.
As O'Neal pointed out, though, it was Jackson's relaxed demeanor that kept the locker room cool, even in times of difficulty.
No doubt, his tenure as coach deserves to go down as one of the best this league has ever seen.