Report: Lakers hire Jackson again

Updated: June 14, 2005, 5:31 PM ET
SportsTicker

LOS ANGELES - Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant apparently have gotten over their differences.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced they have hired Phil Jackson to again be their coach.

"About a week ago, prior to the first game of the NBA Finals, ABC did an interview with Phil Jackson about the pursuit and his coaching decision, and the whole process," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "And Phil referred to the process as the 'biggest pregnant pause in sports history.'

"I'm still not exactly sure what exactly that means. In any event, I think I'm here today to announce that the biggest pregnant pause in sports history is over. Please welcome back Phil Jackson, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers."

Jackson guided the Lakers to three championships from 2000-2002 but resigned after losing in last year's NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons, due largely to his testy relationship with the superstar guard Bryant, which he subsequently detailed in a book.

"Well, this is something I never thought could possibly happen, to be standing back again, less than one year after having been part of the dissolution of this organization and the changing of the guard, so to speak, and feeling so comfortable stepping back into this position," Jackson said.

The 59-year-old Jackson has won nine championships as a coach, tying him with Red Auerbach for the NBA record. His .725 winning percentage (832-316) is tops in league history.

Shortly after the Lakers' shocking five-game loss to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, Jackson ended his five-year tenure in Los Angeles last June following a meeting with owner Jerry Buss.

The same day, center Shaquille O'Neal - who also had feuded with Bryant - said he wanted out, too. O'Neal subsequently was traded to the Miami Heat, whom he led to within one game of the NBA Finals this year.

After re-signing Bryant as a free agent, the Lakers started 24-19 before coach Rudy Tomjanovich - who had guided the Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles in 1994-95 - stepped down on February 2, citing health problems.

The team sputtered down the stretch under interim coach Frank Hamblen, finishing 34-48 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 1994.

"I think that the team has talent," Jackson said. "People have overlooked the fact that there is talent. Los Angeles still has perhaps the best floor player in the game today in Kobe Bryant. They have two outstanding ballplayers in Lamar Odom and Caron Butler, and they have some complementary players that certainly can help this team win.

"There are a couple pieces that are still needed to make this team a winning team, and those are in the form of Brian Grant-type players that we anticipate can help us this year ... some players that we hope we can attract to this ballclub in the offseason."

Jackson - whose girlfriend, Jeanie, is Buss' daughter and the team's executive vice president of business operations - said he believes he can once again can co-exist with Bryant.

"I think it's a matter of trust and rebuilding the trust that we've had," Jackson said. "I have talked to Kobe. He called me this morning, congratulating me on the job, and I felt confident that's he's confident that we can go forward. I think that was the important part."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index