Phil Jackson has been so successful as a coach that many forget about his 13-year playing career. He spent 11 of those seasons with the New York Knicks and was a key role player on the club's 1973 championship winner. A second-round pick in 1967, Jackson averaged 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds for his career and was regarded for his stout defense and all-out style (he once led the league in personal fouls).
2 of 12Courtesy of CBA
Jackson served as a player/assistant coach for the New Jersey Nets for two seasons before retiring in 1980. After another season as an assistant coach and a brief stint as a Nets broadcaster, Jackson was hired as head coach of the CBA's Albany Patroons in the middle of the 1982-83 season. He won the CBA championship in his first full season on the bench, and went 117-90 in five seasons.
3 of 12David E. Klutho/SI
A successful CBA stint helped Jackson land a job as assistant to Chicago Bulls coach Doug Collins in 1987. Jackson took over as coach two years later after the Bulls fired Collins despite reaching the 1989 Eastern Conference finals in Michael Jordan's fifth season (and Scottie Pippen's second).
4 of 12Manny Millan/SI
Jackson guided the Bulls to the NBA title in 1991, the first of the team's three consecutive championships. Michael Jordan's first retirement interrupted the dynastic run, but His Airness' return led to another three-peat from 1995-98.
5 of 12AP
Jackson won his only Coach of the Year award in 1996, when the Bulls posted an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins before winning the title. That season was notable not only for the unprecedented dominance but also for the presence of Dennis Rodman, acquired in a preseason trade from San Antonio.
6 of 12Manny Millan/SI
Influenced by his longtime assistant Tex Winter (right), Jackson came to rely on the triangle offense. Not many teams use the pass-and-cut, read-and-react offense consistently, but then, Jackson is known to go against the grain. He's lectured his players on Zen Buddhism, given them books to read on road trips and brought in a stress-relief specialist to offer them breathing lessons. "I've never known anybody to handle crisis the way Phil does," Winter told SI. "He's able to read the big picture and not let the emotions of the moment control him."
7 of 12Walter Iooss Jr./SI
In a season billed as the "Last Dance," the Bulls won their sixth championship under Jackson when Jordan famously made the go-ahead jumper in the closing seconds of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals at Utah. Jordan retired for a second time after the season, while Jackson took a year off from coaching and Pippen was traded, sending the Bulls into full-scale rebuilding mode.
8 of 12Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Jackson returned to coaching in June 1999 with the Lakers, who had just been swept by San Antonio in the second round of the playoffs in Kobe Bryant's first season as a starter and Shaquille O'Neal's third season with the club. Jackson went on to win championships in his first three seasons in Los Angeles before the Shaq-Kobe relationship unraveled.
9 of 12Tom Mihalek/AFP/Getty Images
The three-peat in L.A. gave Jackson nine for his coaching career, tying him with Red Auerbach for the most all time. But he briefly put his quest for No. 10 on hold after the 2003-04 season when he opted not to return to the Lakers, who traded Shaq in the offseason and retooled around Kobe. A year later, however, Jackson was back coaching the Lakers, bringing with him the NBA's all-time best winning percentage of more than .700.
10 of 12Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Jackson's longtime girlfriend, Lakers vice president Jeanie Buss, played a role in persuading him to return for a second stint with the team. He reportedly received a three-year, $30 million contract.
11 of 12Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
On Christmas Day 2008, the Lakers beat the Celtics in their first meeting of the season and Jackson became the fastest coach in NBA history win 1,000 games. He became only the sixth coach in history to reach the plateau. (George Karl has since made it seven.)
12 of 12Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
After falling to the Celtics in the 2008 Finals, Jackson led the Lakers back to the Finals in '09, only to leave with his record 10th title in hand. And Jackson picked up No. 11 the following season as the Lakers beat the Celtics in a dramatic Game 7 in Los Angeles.
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