After the Lakers lost to the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday, 114-106, Phil Jackson reached out to Jeanie Buss.
Jackson led the Lakers to five NBA championships when he coached the team from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2005 to 2011.
He knew Buss, the Lakers' governor, needed some words of encouragement to cheer her up. So he texted her a photo of him wearing a team sweatshirt with some words of wisdom.
"Knowing I was feeling a little down today Phil texted me this picture and some words of inspiration to lift my spirits," Buss wrote on Instagram on Wednesday. "He said it was ok to share the photo. 'Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.' His point is stay focused on the task at hand rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. He said it many times over the years."
The Lakers, who have a 2-1 series lead over the Nuggets, are competing for their first championship since 2010, when Jackson led the team to their last title. Game 4 is Thursday at 6 p.m. PST on TNT.
Buss, who dated Jackson for 17 years, called the 11-time champion coach the "most influential man (outside of my family) in my life" on his 75th birthday on Sept. 17.
After receiving his note, Buss went on to try and inspire Lakers fans.
Even though the Lakers are playing inside the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World, she encouraged fans to stay just as engaged as if they were cheering for the team in person.
"But what can I do to help?" Buss asked. "Be there for the team. So Laker fans, let’s bring our energy for tomorrow’s game, like we always do but let’s be a little bit louder, a little bit more focused. Light a candle at game time. Wear something purple or gold or both. Let’s be present together but socially distanced. This we can do. 💛💜🏀💜💛"