By the time he first left the Lakers, Phil Jackson had a pretty broken relationship with Kobe Bryant.
Jackson then published a book highly critical of Kobe, fracturing their relationship further.
Just how bad did it get?
Jackson, via Charlie Rosen of ESPN:
Ah, my good friend Kobe Bryant. … Yes, quite often I could feel his hatred. I’m sure Kobe was pissed when I wrote in “The Last Season” that he was uncoachable. And, yes, we were often at loggerheads. He wanted more freedom and I wanted him to be more disciplined. This is a normal source of friction thing between coaches and players on just about every level of competition. But when I came back for my second stint with the Lakers, Kobe and I worked it all out. I gave him more of a license to do his thing, as long as it stayed within the overall context of the triangle. And we did win two more championships. Anyway, I’ve always seen Kobe as a truly great player, an intelligent guy and a remarkable person.
“I could feel his hatred.” That’s intense.
It’s really remarkable Jackson and Kobe repaired their relationship when the coach returned to the Lakers a couple seasons later. Jackson knows what it takes to connect with star players, his greatest asset as a coach. Kobe deserves credit for putting the grudge aside, too.
And it paid off for both.
Jackson and Kobe won a couple more championships together, and they each speak highly of the other now. With their enhanced championship pedigrees, they’ve secured lucrative deals – Kobe’s extension with the Lakers and Jackson’s presidency of the Knicks.
Not much to hate about that, at least from Jackson’s and Kobe’s perspectives.