KEY POINTS

  • Jackie MacMullen shares a story about Phil Jackson and the Lakers
  • The NBA insider reveals what Jackson told her about the 2008 NBA Finals
  • Kobe Bryant said the 2010 NBA Finals was his favorite series of all time

Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson apparently knew they have no chance against the Boston Celtics in 2008 and devised a plan to bounce back.

The 2007-08 NBA season marked the return of the Los Angeles Lakers as championship contenders. The team finished the season with an improved 57-25 record from last season’s 42-40 and made their way to the NBA Finals.

However, the Lakers failed to bring home the trophy and lost to the Celtics’ then-big three Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

Recounting what happened outside the court at the time, NBA columnist and ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan revealed to The Ringer podcast that Jackson already predicted that the Lakers would not stand against Boston.

However, “The Zen Master” was also planning for a sweet revenge for his boys.

“In 2008, when they were taking that beating, remember Phil [Jackson] was standing with his arms folded?,” MacMullan recalled. “He didn’t do anything, he didn’t change anything. He claims years later to me he knew they couldn’t win that series (against the Boston Celtics).”

Jackson and the hungry Lakers became the best teams in the league the following season. They beat the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals and faced their arch-rivals Boston Celtics in 2010.

Eager to avenge their defeat, the Lakers won a hard-fought seven-game series against the Celtics and claimed their 16th NBA title. It was Jackson’s 11th NBA championship as a coach and Bryant’s 5th with the Lakers.

“He [Jackson] wanted them to feel the humiliation of it, and he wanted to use it for the next two years to motivate them to go back to the finals and beat the Celtics again,” MacMullan stated. “It happened in 2010. He claims all he had to do was mention that.”

Phil Jackson Phil Jackson last coached in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

Bryant, who was crowned NBA Finals MVP at the time, conceded that the said feat  was his “favorite series of all time.”

“That 2010 series is my favorite series of all time, just because it was the most competitive one,” the late NBA legend told Boston Herald in 2014. “It was the most difficult one. I mean, we’re going against four future Hall of Famers (Garnett, Pierce, Allen and Rajon Rondo). That doesn’t happen too often.”

In the 2010-11 season, the Lakers suffered a humiliating 0-4 sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.

In 2012, Jackson left the Lakers and the squad never made it to the playoffs again until Bryant officially retired in 2016.

The death of Kobe Bryant shocked fans and players around the world The death of Kobe Bryant shocked fans and players around the world Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Harry How