The Lakers were swept out of the Playoffs on Sunday in what was a disappointing ending to what figured to be a promising campaign. But the biggest story from this game won't be that the Lakers failure to earn a threepeat, or even the ridiculous flagrant fouls that got Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum ejected late in the game. This one will be remembered as Phil Jackson's last game as an NBA head coach, if he follows through on his promise to retire (and stay retired).
Jackson is the most decorated coach in the history of North American professional sports, and this would be an unsuitable ending to an otherwise incredible career. Based on everything we heard after the game (from Jackson himself, Mitch Kupchak and Kobe Bryant) this really does seem like the end of the line for Jackson. Kobe sounded like he might even tear up a little bit, via Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
"It's tough to put into words what he's meant to me," said Bryant, who had only 17 points on seven-for-18 shooting Sunday. "I grew up under him. The way I approach things, the way I think about things — not only in basketball but in life in general — a lot of it comes from him. It's a little weird for me to think about how next year's going to be."
In this day an age of Brett Favre's and Tiki Barber's and Shawn Kemp's and Chris Forberg's, no one really knows if this really is the end of the line for Jackson. But According to Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN, Jackson really made it sound it like this truly was it.
"All my hopes and aspirations are, this is the final game that I'll coach," Jackson said. "This has been a wonderful run."
He then criticized the officiating so far in the Playoffs, which had earned him a fine earlier on Sunday morning. But you can't fine a guy who isn't a coach anymore David Stern, so there! I think it's safe to assume that Phil Jackson isn't going to be coaching in the NBA during the 2011-12 season. We don't know what the future will hold beyond that, but as of right now, Phil Jackson has coached the last game of his illustrious career.