The Last Dance

Who is Phil Jackson? Fast facts on the head coach of the Chicago Bulls' 1990s dynasty

Philip Douglas Jackson, by championships, is the winningest head coach (11) in NBA history. He was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls for nine of the Michael Jordan's 13 years with the franchise.

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 and was named among the 10 greatest coaches in NBA history in 1997 as part of the league's 50th-anniversary celebrations.

So, who is Phil Jackson? Here are some fast facts on the head coach of the Chicago Bulls' 1990s dynasty.


Jackson was born in Deer Lodge, Montana on September 17th, 1945.

He was part of his high school basketball squad at Williston, North Dakota, that won two state titles. Despite also keenly participating in football, baseball, and discus in track and field, Jackson went to the University of North Dakota to play basketball.

There, he was part of a squad that finished third and fourth in his first (1965) and second year (1966) there respectively. After three years at the University of North Dakota, Jackson declared for the NBA in 1967.

NBA Player and pre-Bulls coaching career

In the 1967 NBA Draft, he was picked in the second round by the New York Knicks.

From 1967 to 1978, he was part of the Knicks for 10 seasons and was a member of their 1973 championship-winning squad but not on the 1970 one (missed the year due to a back injury). He played his final two seasons, from 1978 to 1980, with the New Jersey Nets as a player and assistant coach before retiring as a player in 1980.

During his 12 years in the league, he played in 807 regular season games with averages of 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists.

He left the assistant coach's job with the Nets in 1981. Before he would be hired again in the NBA in 1987, Jackson would coach in lower-level professional leagues like the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and Puerto Rico's National Superior Basketball (BSN).

In fact, he won his first title as a coach in 1984 when he led the Albany Patroons to the 1984 CBA title, their first championship

Coaching career with Bulls

In 1987, he gets hired by the Chicago Bulls as an assistant coach under Doug Collins. A couple of years later, Jackson gets promoted to head coach in 1989 when Collins is let go.

Over the next nine seasons, until 1998, he led the Bulls to the playoffs each year and, more importantly, six championships. Twice, the Bulls won three straight titles (1991-93 & 1996-98), becoming the first team to win three consecutive titles since the Boston Celtics' squad of the 1960s that won eight in a row between 1959 and 1967.

During his tenure, he received the NBA Coach of the Year award in 1996. However, amid growing tensions with the General Manager Jerry Krause, Jackson quit following the championship run of the 1997-98 season.

MORE: The tension that loomed over the Bulls in 1997-98

As head coach of the Bulls, he led them to a 545-193 record in 738 regular season games, with a winning percentage of 73.8%. In the playoffs, he finished with a 111-41 record in 152 total postseason games for a winning record of 73.0%

All the above numbers (wins and win%) are franchise records.

Post Bulls coaching career

A year after splitting with the Bulls, in 1999, Jackson took up the head coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers.

His arrival instantly transformed the team and he led them to three straight titles (2000-02) off the bat, in the process, tying Red Auerbach for most NBA championships as a head coach with nine.

After a loss in the 2004 Finals to the Detroit Pistons, the Lakers parted ways with Jackson. However, both parties reunited at the start of the 2005 season, a six-year partnership that was highlighted by back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. By winning the championship in 2009, his 10th, he surpassed Auerbach to become the winningest coach in NBA history.

In an attempt to go for his fourth career 3-peat, Jackson insisted he would return for one more season - the 2010-11 campaign. With the Lakers losing in the second round of the 2011 playoffs, he retired as their head coach.

Just like the Bulls, he led the Lakers to the playoffs each year. In total, he led the Lakers to a 610-292 regular season record in 902 games for a winning percentage of 67.6%. In the playoffs, the Lakers went 118-63 under him for a winning percentage of 65.2%.

Stint as Knicks' President of Basketball Operations

In 2014, three years after he quit as the coach of the Lakers, Jackson was announced in March as the President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks.

Three-and-a-half years later, in June 2017, the Knicks announced that they would part ways with Jackson. During his tenure, the team had been under four different head coaches and had gone 90-166 (35.1%).

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