Monday, May 12
May 12, 6:13 PM ET
After angioplasty, Jackson to return for Game 5
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- An upbeat Phil Jackson rejoined the
Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, two days after undergoing a heart
procedure, and he will coach in Game 5 against the San Antonio
"I'm feeling good, I feel like a new man, actually,'' Jackson
told reporters before the Lakers flew to San Antonio for Tuesday
night's game at SBC Center.
The Western Conference best-of-seven semifinal is tied 2-2.
"We're back in the hunt in the playoffs with a team that's
rejuvenated, and I've got a new lease on life,'' Jackson said.
"The biggest thing is moving forward from here. You have the
energy, the resolve, to move on.''
Jackson underwent an angioplasty Saturday to open his left
anterior artery, which was over 90 percent blocked. He was released
from Centinela Hospital Medical Center on Sunday morning but
watched the Lakers' 99-95 victory over the Spurs on television.
"I could have come back yesterday,'' he said. "I had an
allergic reaction to antibiotics.''
Jackson said he didn't believe stress caused his problem.
"It's about cholesterol, basically,'' he said. But he added
that the doctors told him to keep his stress down.
It was the first postseason game Jackson has missed in his
13-year career as an NBA head coach. His teams have won a record 25
straight playoff series and nine championships, equaling the record
of former Boston coach Red Auerbach.
He guided the Chicago Bulls to six championships during the
1990s and the Lakers to titles in his three full seasons so far as
The Lakers are attempting to become the second team in NBA
history to win more than three straight championships, joining the
Boston Celtics, who won eight straight starting in 1959.
Assistant Jim Cleamons filled in for Jackson on Sunday. Jackson
said doctors had no reservations about his traveling to San Antonio
and returning to the bench.
Jackson, 57, said he had chest pains for about a month before
the procedure. His energy level had fallen so low, he said, he was
wondering about coaching next season. He has one year left on the
five-year, $30 million contract he signed in June 1999.
"I've said all along if I have reasonable health, I will finish
my contract,'' he said. "I'll consider whether I can do next year
with all the fervor and desire I need.''
Jackson said he'll make a final decision this summer and
wouldn't think beyond that any time soon.
Jackson said he told girlfriend Jeanie Buss, the daughter of
Lakers owner Jerry Buss and the team's executive vice president of
business operations, of his pain May 4 when the team flew to San
Antonio for the first two games of the series.
Jackson said she told the team doctor, and that got the ball
"Unfortunately that's the way it kind of goes -- 'fessing up and
having somebody else start the process,'' Jackson said.
He said he told Buss his "angina was killing me for a
"It was an educated guess on my part,'' Jackson said. "I had
no idea what I was talking about, basically.''
Jackson was examined Friday -- before the Lakers beat the Spurs
110-95 in Game 3. He said he made the decision to coach "with some
medication,'' adding it was a consideration to not coach that
"I was in much better shape on Friday than I was on Monday or
Wednesday,'' he said, referring to the first two games of the
series. "Those were hard games for me to be on the bench.''
Jackson said his heart was in great shape and his other arteries
He said watching Sunday's game was difficult.
"It's hard to sit and watch when your team is shooting 25
percent, having a hard time getting up and down the court,'' he
said, referring to what happened during most of the first half.
The Lakers trailed by as many as 16 points in the second
Jackson said he has always been aware of the importance of diet
"You can't exercise when you don't have the energy,'' he said.
"That's one thing I found out.''
He said he will be able to resume exercising, presumably with a
much higher energy level, in a couple weeks.
Forward Robert Horry said Jackson "seemed like his old chipper
"About himself, he said he was feeling fine,'' Horry said,
adding that Jackson's assessment of the Lakers' performance was
nowhere near fine.
"He gave us pretty much the gist of the procedure and how he
Kobe Bryant said. "He was the same old Phil.''
Team spokesman John Black said Jackson arrived early at the
Lakers' practice facility Monday, met with his coaching staff and
went over videotape.
Jackson missed three games because of a kidney stone that was
removed on Feb. 24. Before that, he had coached 1,249
regular-season and playoff games without missing any in nearly 13