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SALT LAKE CITY — Legendary NBA player and coach Phil Jackson has more NBA championship rings than anyone else, ever. Thirteen to be exact.
And as the former coach for both the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s probably one of only a few people who can definitively answer the Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan debate.
“There was something coachable about Michael that Kobe didn’t have,” Jackson said while headlining Utah tech company Domo’s annual conference Wednesday. “But Kobe had an irrepressible fire.”
If Jackson took Jordan out of a game because he was ruining the offense by trying to score all the time, then Jordan would do better when he got back in.
“He’d know what he’d done,” Jackson said. “He had a conscience.”
Kobe, on the other hand, would stand next to him and incessantly ask if he could go back in. The Lakers’ player had an incredible competitiveness, Jackson said.
“The reason Kobe was unhappy with Shaq (O'Neal) was (because of) his drive,” the coach commented when asked about the Kobe and Shaq feud. “Kobe believed Shaq didn’t care enough about the game.”
While Kobe played with his sights set on four national championships, Shaq once showed up to practice naked with nothing but his tennis shoes on, Jackson said.
“That was just his type of humor.”
Jackson said someone once told him they were in the bathroom when they heard a booming voice overhead say, “I like your style.” As they looked up, they saw Shaq peering over the side of the stall, grinning.
I’ve always valued my family and the fact that I can overwork. Be concise about your work. Be with your family. That’s where you get your sustenance and your strength.
And with such a diverse group of players, Jackson said his coaching style was constantly evolving, though there were a few constants he relied upon.
Though Jackson said some coaches often try to make certain players happy by giving them frequent play time, he would try to put as many players in as he could. If he wasn’t able to put a player in, he’d talk to that player personally.
“I would go around the room after the game and say, ‘Sorry we couldn’t get you in. I was thinking about you and where you could have been,’” he said.
Rather than be a coach that ran up and down the court calling plays, Jackson said he wanted his team to be the type to understand what they could do.
When asked what he believes his “superpower” was as a coach, Jackson answered, “getting people to do something out of the ordinary.”
One of the most important, yet unique, aspects of his coaching was his focus on mindfulness, Jackson said. When asked what advice he had for those in the audience, he advocated a set work-life balance.
“Eight hours (of work) is enough,” Jackson said. “I’ve always valued my family and the fact that I can overwork. Be concise about your work. Be with your family. That’s where you get your sustenance and your strength.”