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Lakers' Jackson Might Be Itching to Leave

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) _ Phil Jackson might follow in his dad's footsteps. Jackson recalled this week that his minister father used to move every five years because he believed his message got old.

``Eventually, your voice is going to wear out on them,'' Jackson said. ``When you see them develop a deaf ear and things change up, it might be time to move on.''

Jackson will complete the five-year, $30 million contract he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons, where he'll attempt to win his 10th championship in 14 years as a head coach.

And then he might move on.

The Lakers broke off negotiations for a contract extension in February until after the season. While there are indications Jackson wants to continue coaching, he has been noncommittal as to his future and the Lakers also haven't commented.

``In my mind, it's definitely not his last year of coaching,'' Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis said Thursday. ``He might take a year off and come back like he did before.''

When asked if he thought Jackson will return to the Lakers, Rambis replied: ``I don't have a feeling for that, one way or another. I just get the feeling he still wants to coach.''

Jackson, 58, won three titles in his first four years in Los Angeles after getting six in nine years with the Bulls. He left Chicago after completing a second three-peat when the team was broken up in 1998 and took a year off before joining the Lakers.

That leaves Jackson with nine titles in 13 years _ an incredible feat. One more would break a tie with former Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach and make Jackson the first coach or manager of a professional team to win 10 championships.

``He'll probably be either the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches, according to me,'' Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal said regarding Jackson's status should the Lakers win the title. ``I don't know what Red Auerbach would say about that. I'd put him right up there.''

Jackson's postseason record of 174-65 is the best in NBA history, and his 832-316 regular-season mark is by far the best ever percentage-wise.

While Jackson has won nine titles, first-year Pistons coach Larry Brown hasn't won any in his 26-year career as a professional coach _ four in the old ABA and 22 in the NBA.

But the 63-year-old Brown is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and Jackson isn't.

``There's not many guys who haven't won a championship who have gone in,'' Jackson said. ``His service, his coaching ability and his influence on the game have earned him the respect of a lot of people in basketball.''

Brown is the first coach to lead seven franchises to the NBA playoffs and four teams to the conference or division finals.

His 933 regular-season victories in the NBA rank seventh; his 81 playoff wins tie K.C. Jones for fourth; he was coach of the year when he led the 76ers to the 2001 finals; he led Kansas to the 1988 NCAA title; and he'll coach the U.S. Olympic team in Athens.

Brown has certainly followed the path of Jackson's father during his 33-year career as a head coach, including seven in college, never staying anywhere more than six years.

Brown has usually taken over a mediocre team and turned it into a winner. In Detroit, he was given a five-year, $25 million deal to transform a contender into a champion.

The Pistons hope to accomplish that.

``It would be a blessing,'' Pistons star Richard Hamilton said. ``Coach has been in this league for so long and like he tells us all the time, 'You don't always get these opportunities, so when you're here, you've got to take advantage of it.'

``So, it would be a great thing to get something for him.''

For Brown to get his first NBA title, he will have to prevent Jackson from winning his 10th.

``I'm not envious _ I try to be the best I can be,'' Brown said. ``I don't worry about anything else. I don't want to be like anything else, but anybody that doesn't recognize the excellence and success he's had is silly.''

Jackson has been called lucky to have coached the likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago and O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers.

Brown doesn't subscribe to that theory.

``When you win as many championships as he has, you've got to be doing it the right way,'' he said. ``Not everybody wins with great players, we've got to understand that. He gets guys to play the way he wants them to play. I think that's a tribute to him.''

Horace Grant, who played for Jackson with the Bulls and Lakers, called the coach a teacher.

Many have said the same of Brown.

``I've said this repeatedly _ there's no other coach that could have handled this team other than Phil Jackson,'' Grant said. ``When you can handle different personalities, that's the sign of a good coach.''
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