UCLA Targeted Phil Jackson for Coaching Advice

By John Engel
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles sports fans, and apparently team officials, have difficulty being told “no.”

When Phil Jackson first turned down Buss family’s offer to become head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, the entire city was in disarray. However, when Jackson supposidly showed interest, the Lakers passed on the hall of fame coach and decided to hire the great, and honorable, Mike D’Antoni.

During UCLA‘s coaching search to replace Ben Howland, Los Angeles got even more revenge on Jackson. UCLA Bruins athletic director Dan Guerrero talked to Jackson’s represantivies about possibly assisting in the coaching search for UCLA, after the program failed to acquire Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart and Butler coach Brad Stevens.

Guerrero was planning to use Jackson for both the coaching search and recruiting purposes. Jackson would meet with recruits, obviously to persuade them from transferring during a low point in UCLA’s history. The terms were established for Jackson to become a consultant in Westwood and a press conference was expected to follow after the holiday weekend.

Instead, Guerrero hired New Mexico head coach Steve Alford — which was a good hire by any program’s standards —  and presumably chuckled over his abandonment of Jackson. Now Guerrero’s decision to pass on Jackson could have been for a number of reasons; Jackson the consultant would be an incredibly expensive hire — and rightfully so — for work Guerrero believe he could do on his own. Also, Jackson doesn’t do will with spur of the moment decisions. Much like the Lakers situation, Jackson waited over the weekend and was then passed on for another coach.

Maybe Los Angeles was once again getting revenge, or maybe Jackson was just as slow in making decisions as he always has been. Either way, Jackson will not be consulting for UCLA anytime in the near future.

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