With 11 championships under his name, Phil Jackson is currently the most successful NBA head coach. He won six championships for the Chicago Bulls and five for the Los Angeles Lakers. As Jackson coached the Bulls for around a decade, his departure caused fans to ask - 'Why did Phil Jackson leave the Bulls?'
Jackson started coaching the Bulls as an assistant coach in 1987 before he was promoted to the head coach position in 1989. Jackson led the Bulls to two three-peats in nine years and made it to the playoffs every year. Under Jackson, the team failed to win only three times, which included the years Jordan spent in retirement. Jackson's three-peats were a first after the Boston Celtics won 8 back-to-back championships from 1959-66. However, by the 1997-98 season, Jackson relationship with GM Jerry Krause has soured. Here is exactly why did Phil Jackson leave the Bulls after the 1997-98 campaign.
To answer the 'Why did Phil Jackson leave the Bulls?' question, one doesn't need to look further than multiple media reports and Michael Jordan's The Last Dance. Jerry Krause was unhappy with the credit Jackson had been receiving about the Bulls championships and felt underappreciated. Some reports even hinted that Krause believed Jackson was indebted to him for giving him his first coaching job. If not for Jerry Krause, Jackson might not have been a part of the Bulls in the first place.
The documentary showed that Krause was fond of Jackson at first, but started resenting him later. During the 1997 summer, Jackson was the only one not invited to Krause's step-daughter's wedding. This included the then head coach at Iowa State, who would later take over Jackson's place.
According to reports, Krause wanted him gone before the 1997-98 season. However, Jordan only wanted to play with Jackson. Krause signed Jackson for a year while making it clear that he would be gone next year. Jackson had then asked Krause if he was on the other side. Krause replied by telling Jackson that it doesn't matter if the team went 82-0 that season, Jackson would still have to leave. As per Jackson, that was the last time he and Krause properly interacted during his last season with the Bulls.
After his last season with the Bulls, Jackson stated that he would not return as an NBA coach. However, he returned to coach the Lakers a year later. Jackson coached the Lakers till 2004 and announced his departure four days after the Lakers loss to Detroit Pistons. Jackson returned to the team in 2005, winning them two more championships in 2009 and 2010. Fans also ask – 'Did Phil Jackson coach the Knicks?'. While Jackson was drafted by the New York Knicks during the NBA Draft second draft in 1967, he has never coached the team.
Jackson frequently used Native American spiritual practices, which why people often asked 'Is Phil Jackson native American?'. While Jackson is American, he utilizes various 'American Indian qualities of leadership'. The American Indian College Fund has also honored Jackson at their annual gala. Jackson's colleague Bill Bradley had been the one to accept the award.
Before playing for the NBA, both Bradley and Jackson has conducted a basketball clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which enabled them to incorporate their leadership techniques and philosophies they learnt into their careers. Jackson has also talked about this in his book – Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior.