Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson retired after the 2011 season after reportedly being diagnosed with prostate cancer. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
While the Lakers were in the midst of being swept out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, coach Phil Jackson told the team that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding.
Jackson was diagnosed in March 2011, but did not decide to tell Lakers players until the first week of May, when they played a second-round series against Dallas and Jackson "sensed the team was lacking something," according to the report.
The revelation will appear in Jackson's upcoming book, "Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success."
From The O.C. Register report (via LakersGround.net):
Jackson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2011. After doctors assured him the cancer could be controlled by drugs temporarily, Jackson waited until after the season to undergo surgery.
"Shocking," Pau Gasol said Saturday, remembering Jackson's disclosure to the team. "But then you also could understand certain moments of his demeanor, energy and involvement because of what he was going through health-wise. It explained certain things. It was a shock. A difficult moment for the team."
Gasol said Jackson talked with team captains Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher privately before telling the whole team in a video session – but Jackson was left second-guessing the revelation in which he became teary-eyed as he spoke … the Lakers strangely fading in that series vs. Dallas.
Gasol allowed that it was different for the team to see Jackson – "such a big figure, the physical and spiritual leader of the team" – as vulnerable.
"As much as I love Phil and I appreciate everything about him," Gasol said, "it was difficult to know."
Jackson retired after that series, but his return to an NBA position
has been rumored since the beginning of this season.