“If Kobe Bryant is Here Next Year, I Won’t Be”: Phil Jackson Was Driven Out of Lakers’ HC Position Due to the Mamba’s Uncoachability

Advait Jajodia
|Published 31/12/2022

Kobe Bryant is considered one of the most hardworking athletes in the sporting world. One of the game’s most dedicated players, the Black Mamba is regarded to be among the greatest ever to suit up for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Having represented the Purple & Gold for the entirety of his two-decade-long career, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard built up a pretty impressive resume. Despite having sustained over 20 injuries, Bryant managed a way to become among the most decorated stars in the modern NBA.

Playing in over 1,550 games in his career, Kobe managed to earn 18 All-Star selections, 15 All-NBA selections, 12 All-Defensive selections, 2 scoring titles, 1 MVP, 5 championships, and 2 Finals MVPs, among a long list of other impressive accolades.

Also Read: 4x NBA Champion Claims He Always Beat Kobe Bryant One-on-One

Even though Kobe was a motivated student of the game, being “un-coachable” was a reason why Phil Jackson decided to part ways with the Lakers franchise.

“I won’t coach this team if Kobe Bryant is still here”: Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson is regarded as one of the most successful coaches in NBA history. Apart from winning 2 championships as a member of the New York Knicks, the “Zen Master” managed to clinch 11 titles during his stint as a coach.

Out of the 11 championships, Jackson was the head coach of the three-peat Lakers team that was co-led by Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal in the early 2000s.

Despite being one of the most lethal teams during that era, Jackson decided to quit his job due to Kobe’s behavior. In the book “Three-Ring Circus”, it is detailed how Bryant being rude to everyone was not sitting well with Phil.

Jackson walked into Kupchak’s office and demanded the Lakers trade their young cornerstone. He was not kidding. “I won’t coach this team next year if he is still here,” Jackson said. “He won’t listen to anyone. I’ve had it with this kid.” It was similar to the words he’d shared with his assistant coaches a few days earlier, when he told them, “Kobe has become un-coachable. If he’s here next year, I won’t be.”

Phil Jackson would return as the coach for the Lakers

Despite the friction with the Mamba, Phil Jackson returned to the Los Angeles Lakers as their head coach from the 2005-06 season onwards.

Due to the departure of Shaq, Phil was unable to lead the Lakers to a deep playoff run for a couple of seasons. However, in 2007, the SF-based franchise would finish with the #1 spot in the West only to lose to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 Finals.

The next 2 years, Jackson exploited the likes of Kobe and Pau Gasol to the team’s benefit to defeat Kevin Garnett and co. in the 2009 & 2010 Finals.

After the conclusion of the 2010-2011 season, Jackson would eventually call it a career, retiring as one of the greatest figures in basketball history.

Also Read: Kobe Bryant Was Backed By Jerry Buss Personally According to Shaquille O’Neal

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About the author
Advait Jajodia

Advait Jajodia

Being a two-time national-level basketball player, NBA surely had my attention from a very young age. At age 20 now, I aspire to share the knowledge I gained over 11 years with fellow basketball-lovers through my articles!

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