One of those rare you-can't-make-this-stuff-up moments occurred in the bowels of the Staples Center an hour or so after the Lakers beat the Suns 103-101 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference final last Thursday night. Phoenix guard
Jackson, who uses this mode of transportation after almost every game to save wear and tear on the various surgically-repaired parts of his body, looked like he was born to be borne. Which led me to ponder how the possibility of pope jibes with Jackson's uncertain vocational future. He has been incredibly successful as a leader, more specifically within the kingdom of men that constitutes a professional sports team, so the College of Cardinals would be putty in his hands. Plus, he's already 6-foot-8, so think how grand he would look in the pope hat.
But at the end of the day we can probably rule out pontiff -- his Buddhist background suggests major confirmation problems.
At any rate, as Jackson gears up for his
If he does not, then he, like tens of millions other Americans, will be unemployed.
You may snicker since Jackson has made upwards of $100 million over the last two decades. But it's no joke. Every time an American joins the ranks of the jobless, a sparrow dies in Persia. I don't know what that means, but it sounds like something Phil might say.
I assume it's too late for Jackson to pursue what he always said was a long-ago career possibility: forest ranger. Years of living in Chicago and L.A. have no doubt dimmed his survivalist, woodsy inclinations. So in the spirit of helpfulness, I polled several Lakers recently to solicit opinions about what Phil should do if he finds himself with an undue amount of spare time when the 2010-11 NBA season rolls around.
"Maybe an advisor?" said center
But the man himself is sure that he would have a real vocation after his time on the bench is over.
"Mentor," Jackson said, answering immediately when I asked him about a second career. "I would like to mentor coaches. At all levels. There's a great need for that."
There is little doubt that Jackson would be good at it. He has proven to be a master at melding disparate personalities (
"Baseball manager," said Hamblen with conviction. "Phil played baseball, loves baseball. He and I really tune in on the College World Series this time of year, watch it, talk about it, analyze it." The thought of Jackson (who pitched at North Dakota) and Hamblen (who played first base at Syracuse) exchanging thoughts about aluminum bats and 21-16 games does not compute for me, but Hamblen assures that it's true. "Phil knows the game inside and out," he said.
Cracking baseball's incestuous hiring system would be tough, but the establishment might make an exception for Jackson, arguably the greatest team-sport coach in history. My guess is that he would go back to the