But besides the obvious — that Jackson won five titles with the Lakers and had a unique ability in handling the team’s expectations and stars — Kobe Bryant says there’s another reason Jackson should return to the bench.
Bryant showed his support for Jackson coaching the Lakers on Friday night, just hours after Mike Brown was fired five games into the season.
“Phil, obviously, you guys know how I feel about Phil,” Bryant said, according to ESPN.com. “The one thing that’s kind of always bothered me is that his last year, I wasn’t able to give him my normal self because I was playing on one leg. That’s always kind of eaten away at me — that the last year of his career, I wasn’t able to give him everything I had.”
The Lakers lost to the eventual-champion Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals in 2011, and Jackson fulfilled his preseason promise to step down after the year ended.
“He’s too great of a coach to go out that way,” Bryant said. “That’s kind of my personal sentiment.”
While Jackson said he was done with coaching, multiple sources are reporting that Jackson is now rested and open to returning to the game. He’s been following the working of the Lakers and is wanted back by key figures in the organization, according to reports.
“Knowing him the way I do, I think it’s really just a matter of health, if he feels physically up to doing it,” Bryant said. “He’s a perfectionist. We all know he’s a perfectionist. If he feels like he can come in here and give what he demands from himself, then I think he would be interested.”
And as Lakers history has showed, if Jackson is interested and Bryant is interested, the outcome is all but assured.