Lakers' coach Phil Jackson ready for Hall of Fame induction, discuses Garnett


Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has matched Red Auerbach with nine NBA titles.

What the new Basketball Hall of Famer can't do is compete with the late Celtics patriarch's supernatural skills.

"We lost out on the Kevin Garnett sweepstakes," Jackson lamented Friday after a ceremony to receive his Hall of Fame blazer. "Red Auerbach came out of the grave and told Kevin (McHale) to give him to the Celtics."

Auerbach was credited with many things during his own Hall of Fame career as a coach and executive who had a hand in all of Boston's record 16 NBA championships. Visiting teams accused the Celtics of foul play, like turning off the hot water in the locker room showers or memorizing the dead spots in the famous Boston Garden parquet floor.

But to Auerbach, who died on the eve of last season, the Celtics mystique was merely a tradition of excellence that players bought into when they arrived in Boston and carried with them if they made other NBA stops. Jackson joked that it may have helped the Celtics land Garnett in an unprecedented 7-for-1 trade this summer.

McHale, who won three titles with the Celtics in the 1980s, is now the basketball boss of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He worked out the deal with former teammate Danny Ainge, who's running the Celtics.

Jackson, who denied a report that he was considering retirement, said he was hoping to add Garnett to the Lakers, in part to assuage the concerns of star Kobe Bryant that the team wasn't a championship contender.

Bryant criticized the Lakers' front office this spring and asked for a trade, but he later appeared to soften his stance. Bryant hasn't addressed the issue much since, so it's unclear if the two-time league scoring champion still wants to leave the only NBA team he has played for.

"Kobe and I are very much in collusion in that we want this team to have an opportunity to succeed," Jackson said. "We've made some changes."

Asked whether Bryant would have to mend fences if he does return, Jackson said, "There's some recouping that has to be done there, perhaps between Kobe and some of his teammates."

Before leaving Los Angeles for the induction ceremony, Jackson told radio station KLAC he felt misled by a member of the Buss family.

"We were promised by Jim Buss we'd have big changes. We've yet to see that," Jackson said. "We're still looking for that. And we still are looking for that big boost in our team. So we hope we still have one more (move) in us to include a player that really can play...the kind of role that you have to have to win in this game, someone who can (score) and play defense and do the things on the floor to help us win."

Buss is the son of Jerry Buss, the Lakers' owner since 1979. The team has won eight championships since that time.

Jackson was to be inducted into the Hall on Friday night along with North Carolina coach Roy Williams; the 1966 NCAA champion Texas Western team; four-time WNBA championship coach Van Chancellor, the longtime women's coach at Mississippi recently hired by LSU; former NBA referee Mendy Rudolph; and international coaches Pedro Ferrandiz of Spain and Mirko Novosel of Yugoslavia.

Former USA Today, Chicago Tribune and New York Times writer Malcom Moran and longtime Phoenix Suns broadcaster Al McCoy were honored with the Curt Gowdy Media Award.

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