This is not how head coach Phil Jackson expected to go out.
More than likely, it will not be the way he goes out.
The famed basketball coach, who had 11 championships rings as a head coach, lost out on this fourth three-peat, and walking away from the game after a sweep in the Western Conference semi-finals is not how he will go out.
Though he has stated this is his last season, it's hard to believe.
There are six reasons why Jackson will return.
6) Reinforcements are on the way. There is no way that the Lakers will not make changes in the upcoming off-season. One distinct possibility is that Dwight Howard will join the team in a trade for Andrew Bynum. Though Bynum has made great strides, Howard would be too good to pass up, and the trade rumor has been floated around in the regular season. A house cleaning by general manager Mitch Kupchak might be Howard and others in a Lakers' uniform.
5) The Lakers will be hungry next season. The Lakers may have been suffering for a lack of desire this season. Though there were many reasons for the Lakers to put forth a great effort, it seemed that the team was coasting too much this past season. On a team that was expected to have perhaps their best season ever, the Lakers managed to win only 57 games, and barely finished with the number-two seed. Next season will be taken more seriously, by Kobe Bryant and others.
4) If Jackson was really going to leave, he would have been more firm with his decision. Jackson is 65, has had back and hip problems, and it seemed that his time had come to leave the game. But coaching is what he loves. He loves success, and the team still has plenty of opportunity to rebound in their immediate future. If Jackson really wanted to leave he would have stated it definitively from the start of the season. Instead, Jackson has been around the bush on the topic, and most believe it would come down to if the Lakers brought home another ring. Well, he didn't get his ring, and hasn't flat out stated he's done.
3) He has strong ties to the organization. When the Lakers struggled during the season that followed Jackson's departure in 2004-2005, there was early talk that Jackson would return. Rudy Tomjanovich, Jackson's successor, abruptly decided to call it quits due to health problems, and was replaced by interim head coach Frank Hamblen. There was speculation then, just months removed from Jackson's retirement, that he would return. Instead, Jackson returned the following season, and is only now contemplating retirement. It's that type of commitment to the team that makes Jackson's loyalty to the organization, and their loyalty to him, so unwavering. Then there's the issue of his girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, who is the daughter of Lakers' owner Jerry Buss.
2) Kobe wants him back. It's hard to say no to arguably the best player in the NBA. Bryant will push for Jackson's return, and Jackson will be hard-pressed to deny him. The two have had their differences in the past, but a new understanding has grown between them after hard times, and a solid bond has been formed. Bryant will lobby hard for Jackson to have one more season with the club.
1) Jackson cares about his legacy. Like most figures who have enjoyed great success, Jackson has an ego and has great deal of pride. A sweep to the Mavericks, a team the Lakers were heavily favored to beat, is not the last memory he wants to have as head coach. One last hurrah is left in Jackson, and he wants everyone to remember him as a champion, not a guy who couldn't get it done when a championship was what everyone expected.
There might be things going on behind the scenes with Jackson that none of us know about and he will indeed retire as many expect and he has indicated that this he is done, but it's hard to believe this is the way one of the all-time greats will leave coaching.