The Evolution of Phil Jackson

If you watch sports like I do you have undoubtedly been inundated with commercials, like this one, promoting Gatorade’s new G Series. One of the buzzwords that they have tried to associated with the G Series is “evolve”.

I don’t know why, but for some reason this morning I decided to do a Google Image Search for Phil Jackson, formerly of my (then) beloved Chicago Bulls and now the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Not surprisingly, the one word that popped into my head while browsing through pictures of the Zen Master was evolve.

Since there are no Midwest teams left in the NBA Playoffs and the White Sox putrid start to the season has left me completely unmotivated to post about baseball, and because Tyler already has the Stanley Cup Finals covered, this seemed like a great morning to have a little photo fun.

So enjoy the evolution of Phil Jackson.

We start with an old, old picture of Phil from his North Dakota days. Killer tube socks dude. (Anyone else see a young Colin Cowherd here? Anyone?)


Image source: Farther off the Wall

After leaving North Dakota, Jackson became a New York Knick and also grew a sweet beard. Based on biographies I’ve read of Jackson, he also dabbled in some of the finer things in life during this time in New York: drugs, women, and short shorts.

And hey? Why not? He’s Phil Jackson, bitch.


Image source: Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images via

And here he is a little bit older in New Jersey. As you can see, his wrist bands, tube socks, and the side of his jersey took some of his acid before the game.


Image source: SI Vault

Once his playing career ended, Jackson got into coaching. He started out in the CBA before ultimately being hired by the Chicago Bulls once Doug Collins proved to be an abject failure (a neat lesson for all those who say that anyone could have won six titles with Michael Jordan).

Upon reaching Chicago, Jackson swapped short shorts and bushy beards for suits, bow ties, the occasional Indian head dress, and a killer donmattingly on his upper lip. He also demanded that his players call him Professor Selleck.


Image source:

Phil Jackson ultimately left the Bulls after winning six championships, but he was not done coaching. Not by a longshot.

Jackson ended up in LA with the Lakers, coaching Kobe and Shaq, and leading the two stars to a three-peat of championships by doing sideline disco with O’Neal (which they reportedly referred to as “kazaaming”) and a hell of a lot of pointing, which took on progressively demonic tones (look at the eyes on the last two; where’s the Zen bro?).


Image source: John W. McDonough/SI via SI Vault


Image source: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY via


Image source: Farther of the Wall


Image source: The Arena


Image source: The Evolution of Michael Jordan

All of the angry staring and pointing, of course, makes a Zen Master feel empty inside. Luckily Southern California provides the perfect antidote, what with its beaches and hot owner’s daughters.

Image source: That’s A Lot of Balls


Image source: John W. McDonough/SI via SI Vault

Jackson became so at peace in LA after winning his fourth title with Lakers, and 10th overall (most in history), that he began to take an active role in promoting social justice. Thus, he began wearing Malcolm X hats and granting interviews to annoying, overrated minority ESPN anchors like Stuart Scott (BOO-YEAH!).


Image source: Just a Memo

The evolution of Phil Jackson has brought us to today, which sees the great Zen Master going for his 11th NBA championship ring. No one is quite sure what continues to motivate Jackson, but he apparently desires to wear jewelry on his feet. Or, as some have suggested, Jackson is still coaching because he enjoys using practice time learning how to juggle.


Image source:

One thing is for sure: the evolution of Phil Jackson from skinny North Dakota nobody to Supreme Sultan of the Soul Patch is now nearly complete and it truly has been fascinating to watch.

Now beam him up Scottie…


Image source:

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. You're an idiot. Doug Collins was a very good coach for a very young and immature Michael Jordan. The Bulls were NOT a good enough team under Collins to get past Detroit or Boston in those early years. It took Jackson a couple years and the Pistons, Celtics, and Lakers to get old before Jordan finally won it with Phil. Moron.

    • Okay, so maybe "abject failure" was a little strong, especially considering the fact that he made it to the conference finals in his last season in Chicago. But a couple things:

      #1: Did you read the rest of the post? Lots of hyperbole and tongue-in-cheek snarkiness. Now, I'm not calling you an "idiot" or a "moron" if you don't get my point of view, so how about you show me the respect?

      #2: The year after Collins left, the Bulls won 8 more games and lost again in the conference finals. Then they reeled off two 3-peats in 8 years. The point of my Collins wasn't as much to disparage him (though I did) but rather to show that not ANYONE could win with the talent Phil Jackson had. Why? Well, Doug Collins didn't, for one. That was the point. And yes, those Bulls were younger under Collins, and he probably was a good coach at the time; he just isn't a championship coach…otherwise he would have won one. Jackson is, hence his 10 titles, which people still do not respect enough.

      • Apologies for the idiot and moron comments. Uncalled for. My bad. I guess I read too many sports posts and get caught up in the attitudes that seems to prevail. Absolutely read the rest of the post and LOVED it. Very funny and well written. The only issue I had was with the Collins comment, due to the fact I believe he has been a very good coach throughout his career. I totally respect Phil for being an AMAZING coach and I also feel he isn't given enough credit, only because of that talent. Thanks for the reply and please, keep up the good work.

    • Yes, thats the point that too many people think anyone could coach the talent Phil has had to titles but nobody else has. Insert Doug Collins, Del Harris/Magic, Rudy Tomjanovich (half season). All that said I can't wait to watch the beginning of the 76ers dynasty with Doug Collins their newly hired coach in 2011. Haha yeah right, Evan Turner or not.

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