Lakers' Jackson returns to practice after missing preseason opener

Updated: October 8, 2008, 6:39 PM ET
Associated Press

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson was at practice Wednesday, a day after missing the team's preseason opener because of soreness and swelling in his lower legs.

Team spokesman John Black said Jackson felt better, although he hadn't decided whether he would travel to Fresno for Thursday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers and probably wouldn't make a decision until Thursday morning.

Assistant coach Kurt Rambis ran the Lakers in a 99-90 loss to Utah team in place of the 63-year-old Jackson, who remained home and watched the game with his legs elevated. Jackson has been experiencing discomfort for the past few days and was examined Monday by a team doctor.

Jackson, tied with fellow Hall of Famer Red Auerbach with nine NBA coaching titles, has undergone two hip replacement operations since October 2006 -- the second one in June 2007. He used a cane for four months, including the preseason last year.

Last June, Jackson coached the Lakers within two victories of the franchise's 15th championship before they lost to the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals.

Jackson signed a two-year contract extension for last fall for approximately $24 million, which takes him through next season.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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