That Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson did not have the most synergic relationship is no secret. One of Kobe’s serious allegations against Phil is a case in point.
The three-peating Los Angeles Lakers were truly one of the most dominant teams in NBA history. With two dominant superstars in Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant at the helm, the team achieved considerable success under head coach Phil Jackson.
The structures and makings of the team were shaky from the beginning, however. Phil Jackson was coming off achieving historical success with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, winning 6 championships. Both superstars were either in their primes or entering it in Kobe’s case. The combination of three alpha males together was bound to be combustible.
And catch fire it did. While the duo of Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant would go on to win 5 NBA championships together, everything was not as rosy at first. Phil had even called Kobe ‘uncoachable’ at one point. “And, yes, we were often at loggerheads. Kobe wanted more freedom and I wanted him to be more disciplined.” Phil had remarked in an interview.
The drama wasn’t one-sided. Kobe had said later, “Phil’s also very intelligent, and he understood the dynamic he had to deal with between me and Shaq. So he would take shots at me in the press, and I understood he was doing that in order to ingratiate himself to Shaq.”
Kobe Bryant had felt as if Phil Jackson was insulting his intelligence, and proper communication could have easily cleared the issue.
Kobe also made some extremely serious allegations. “Another thing was that I would go to him in confidence and talk about certain things, and he would then use those things to manipulate the media against me. And from that standpoint, I finally said, ‘No way. I’m not gonna deal with that anymore.”
While Phil had been fired from his job after Lakers’ 2004 Finals debacle, he reunited with Kobe and went on to win two more championships.
With regards to what had changed, Phil said, “I gave him more of a license to do his thing, as long as it stayed within the overall context of the triangle”
While Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant didn’t exactly agree on a lot of things, they had mutual respect for each other. Their relationship may have been rocky at first, but Bryant and Jackson worked things out and formed a close bond.