Rambis: Jackson thought Lakers job was his
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – Kurt Rambis was on the outside looking in on Monday afternoon, the former Laker standing in his suit at the edge of the practice facility parking lot and doing his day job as commentator for his old team’s television network.
As late as Sunday night, Rambis thought he would be in a different situation, one in which the longtime Lakers assistant would be on the inside again – making the news instead of covering it.
All signs over the weekend had pointed to Phil Jackson coming out of retirement to coach the Lakers for a third time, and Rambis had been talking with his old friend for days about joining him as an assistant. Instead, the Lakers made the decision late Sunday night to hire Mike D’Antoni to replace the fired Mike Brown, and Rambis – along with the rest of the Laker Nation – was stunned.
“They had told Phil that it was his job (in a Saturday interview), that he was their first choice, and they agreed to wait until Monday – today – to allow him time to digest whether or not he felt he was, in fact, the right coach to come and coach this team,” Rambis told USA TODAY Sports. “And, in fact, his agent (Todd Musburger) flew into town – he’s here from Chicago – to start negotiations. So Phil had made his mind up that he wanted to coach this team. Somewhere between Saturday afternoon, when Phil and I had a conversation, and Sunday night, the Laker organization made a complete 180-degree turn.”
Rambis’ view is that someone convinced Lakers management that D’Antoni’s run-and-gun, pick-and-roll heavy system was a better fit for the roster of star-studded talent than Jackson’s triangle that had won 11 NBA titles — five of those with L.A. There were no answers to be had at the Lakers facility, as general manager Mitch Kupchak nor Vice President Jim Buss were made available to the media.
As for reports that Jackson had simply asked for too much in the the negotiations – be it travel privileges because of his health, … [For more on Kurt Rambis says Jackson thought Lakers job was his, click here.]