One of Phil Jacksons' greatest attributes as a coach was the way he was able to handle and motivate his stars. Under his leadership, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were able to win six titles for the Bulls in a stretch of greatness that has yet to be matched since.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, it was the Lakers who benefited from coach Jackson's abilities. And while they weren't able to win as many Chips, Phil's impact was still felt.
On the ‘All Things Covered’ podcast, Shaquille O'Neal himself opened up about what it was like playing for Jackson and revealed what Phil said to him when they started their journey.
“He told me, ‘Look, you’re the best big man I’ve ever seen. Just do me a favor. This year, no rap videos, no commercials, no nothing. If you play the way I get to play, you’re going to be MVP and we’re going to win the championship’.”
Coach Phil followed through on that promise, guiding the Lakeshow to a three-peat from 2000 to 2002. In that same span, O'Neal averaged 35.8 points, 15.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.9 blocks on 59% shooting. And yes, he did win an MVP as well, earning the accolade in the '99-2000 season.
No matter if you love or hate Jackson, his words back then ring with truth, especially now. Unfortunately, it seems many stars in today's NBA need to hear Phil's message, as all too many of them have been caught up in the spotlight, struggling to focus on their craft.
Perhaps they need a leader like Phil to guide and push them to be the best version of themselves on the court.