In 2011, Phil Jackson’s final year as head coach of the Lakers, the Zen Master was swept in a playoff series for the first time in his career.
It’s a year Jackson would likely wish to forget.
Jackson, whose Lakers’ bid for a three-peat came to an embarrassing end in Dallas that season, recently revealed that in March 2011, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
According to a report by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, Jackson postponed surgery until after the season, instead opting to control the cancer temporarily using drugs.
“Shocking,” Pau Gasol told the OC Register of the news Jackson revealed in hopes of giving the team extra motivation. “But then you also could understand certain moments of his demeanor, energy and involvement because of what he was going through health-wise. It explained certain things. It was a shock. A difficult moment for the team.”
Unfortunately for Jackson’s bid for ring No. 12, not all Lakers were as inspired as the Zen Master would have liked.
Although the team went 12-1 that March, things came to a crashing end soon after.
In Game 2 of the second round against the eventual champion Dallas Mavs, Metta World Peace – then known Ron Artest – was suspended one game for a hit to J.J. Barea’s face. Then in Game 4, the Lakers’ final game of the season, both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were ejected for a hit on Dirk Nowitzki and Barea, respectively. Bynum, who ripped off his jersey while walking off the court, was later fined and suspended for the first five games of the following season.
Jackson, who is said to be “itching” to return to the NBA in a front-office role, has since been linked to job openings with the Lakers, Cavs, Raptors and Bobcats, and as the Lakers sit on the verge of another sweep, this time against the Spurs, the “We Want Phil” chants are strong as ever at Staples Center: