Phil Jackson influenced by labor issues

Updated: April 8, 2011, 3:04 AM ET
ESPNLosAngeles.com

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who already had said this will be his last season before retiring, said Thursday night that the potential labor unrest the NBA is facing this summer had plenty to do with his decision to make 2010-11 his final season on the bench.

"It was really about the fact that there's going to be a lockout," Jackson told a small gathering of traveling beat reporters at a downtown hotel ahead of Friday night's game against the Trail Blazers. "It's the perfect time to help the organization cover a gap if there's a lockout. My staff, all those guys who work with me. All those things played into it. I felt like an obligation."

Jackson, 65, told Lakers management after last summer's Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics that they "better plan on something besides this" in reference to his coaching the Lakers.

"I've kind of prepared for retiring in the last two seasons," Jackson said. "Everybody says they don't believe I'm not coming back. ... I've kind of anticipated retiring."

While Jackson aborted his plans to retire before each of the past two seasons, ultimately coming back for another year both times, the man with 13 NBA championships as a coach and a player spoke with a tone of finality about his career Thursday. He cited the rigors of travel during the course of an 82-game season and his limited mobility as contributing factors to his decision as well.

"It's a really unhealthy lifestyle," he said. "I think that's a good reason to get out of the game in some ways, too."

But the league's issues with impending labor strife certainly seemed to put things into focus.

"That, for me, was probably as important as my benefit in coming back and doing this. Fulfill this. Complete a chapter," Jackson said. "Who knows what the NBA is going to look like next year. It's going to take on a whole different proportion. How long is it going to last? I think there are some people who are pretty convinced there's not going to be a year next year."

ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

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