“When he Came Here, Everything Changed”: Kobe Bryant on Why Phil Jackson is the Best Coach in NBA

Published 04/27/2020, 7:54 AM EDT

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For Kobe Bryant, coach Phil Jackson had one of the biggest influence on him as a player. Jackson, one of the best coaches the NBA has seen, arrived at Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. Bryant was then into his fourth season in the NBA.

Jackson, by then, had already achieved two three-peats in a span of eight years with Michale Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. He had come to achieve something similar with Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers. He had an immediate impact. The Lakers won three consecutive titles in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

In an interview much later, Bryant spoke about Jackson’s impact on his game.


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“When he came here, everything changed for me. How I viewed the game. Till that point I really thought about the game from a tactical perspective: executing, fundamentals, training. The surface things,” Bryant said.

“I learned the spirituality of the game. The mindfulness that comes with the game. Understand how to put yourself aside. How to try to quiet your ego and play effortless basketball. That approach to the game was something I felt really separated me from the pack.”

“I felt that I knew what God put me on this earth to do was play the game of basketball. I just loved it so much. Phil peaked my interest.. maybe there’s a deeper level to this. Maybe there’s something more. Something greater to this game.”

Kobe Bryant & Phil Jackson had a successful time together


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Two years after leading the Lakers to an incredible three-peat, Jackson left the club leaving a huge void. It remained a void until he came back to the club a year later in 2005. He almost led them to a second three-peat winning the 2009 and 2010 titles.

As a coach, Jackson had an extremely successful career. He has 11 NBA titles to his name. Five of them came with Bryant and the Lakers. Bryant and Jackson always had mutual respect. When Bryant passed away in January, Jackson was heartbroken.


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“Kobe was a chosen one—special in many ways to many people. Our relationship as coach/player transcended the norm. He went beyond the veil,” Jackson said of Bryant after his death.


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Written by:

Saketh Kandadai


One take at a time