Siusan Turk

Written by Siusan Turk

Modified & Updated: 30 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Phil Jackson is a legendary figure in the world of basketball, known for his incredible achievements as both a player and a coach. His unique coaching style and ability to create winning teams have earned him the title of the most successful coach in NBA history. Jackson’s career is filled with fascinating stories and accomplishments that have left a lasting impact on the sport. From his time as a player with the New York Knicks to his coaching stints with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson’s journey is a testament to his unparalleled basketball knowledge and leadership skills. In this article, we will delve into 13 fascinating facts about Phil Jackson, shedding light on his remarkable career and the lasting legacy he has created in the world of basketball.

Key Takeaways:

  • Phil Jackson, known as the “Zen Master,” won 11 NBA championships as a coach, revolutionizing basketball with his mindfulness-based coaching style and the famous “Triangle Offense.”
  • Beyond basketball, Phil Jackson is a philanthropist, author, and autoracing enthusiast, showcasing his diverse passions and leaving a lasting legacy in the NBA.
Table of Contents

The Early Years of Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson was born on September 17, 1945, in Deer Lodge, Montana. He grew up in a small town and developed a passion for basketball at a young age. His love for the game would eventually lead him to a successful career as both a player and a coach.

Phil Jackson’s NBA Career

Phil Jackson was drafted in the second round of the 1967 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. He played as a power forward and won two NBA championships with the team in 1970 and Jackson was known for his strong defensive skills and ability to contribute offensively.

The Transition into Coaching

After retiring as a player, Phil Jackson transitioned into coaching and quickly made a name for himself. He started his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls in 1987 and later became the head coach in Under Jackson’s leadership, the Bulls achieved great success, winning six NBA championships in the ’90s.

The Zen Master

Phil Jackson earned the nickname “Zen Master” due to his unique coaching style, which incorporated elements of mindfulness and Eastern philosophy. He encouraged his players to focus on teamwork, selflessness, and mental discipline. Jackson’s unconventional methods proved to be highly effective, as he went on to win a total of 11 NBA championships as a head coach.

Coaching the Los Angeles Lakers

After leaving the Bulls, Phil Jackson went on to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. During his tenure with the team, he led them to five NBA championships, cementing his status as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. Jackson’s ability to connect with his players and manage egos played a crucial role in the team’s success.

The Triangle Offense

One of Phil Jackson’s most notable contributions to basketball was his implementation of the “Triangle Offense.” This offensive strategy relies on player movement, spacing, and passing to create scoring opportunities. This system proved to be highly effective, producing championship-winning teams and earning Jackson admiration from basketball enthusiasts.

Autoracing Enthusiast

Beyond basketball, Phil Jackson has a passion for autoracing. He has owned and raced cars, even participating in professional events. This speaks to Jackson’s competitive nature and his desire to excel in various fields.

Phil Jackson’s Coaching Philosophy

Phil Jackson’s coaching philosophy emphasized teamwork, trust, and a strong bond among players. He believed in empowering his team and creating a positive and supportive environment. Jackson’s holistic approach to coaching went beyond the Xs and Os, focusing on building a winning culture.

Successful Stint with the US National Team

Phil Jackson’s coaching prowess was not limited to the NBA. He also had a successful stint with the US National Team, coaching them to a gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. His ability to bring together a team of talented individuals from various NBA teams and mold them into a cohesive unit was instrumental in their triumph.

Phil Jackson’s Philanthropic Efforts

Known for his generosity, Phil Jackson has been involved in various philanthropic endeavors throughout his career. He has supported numerous charitable organizations and actively participated in initiatives aimed at improving education and empowering underserved communities.

Life Beyond Basketball

Although Phil Jackson is primarily known for his basketball career, he has also explored other interests and pursuits. He has written several books, including “Sacred Hoops” and “Eleven Rings,” which delve into his coaching philosophy and experiences. Jackson’s diverse range of passions and pursuits showcases his multifaceted personality.

Phil Jackson’s Legacy

Phil Jackson’s impact on the game of basketball is undeniable. He revolutionized coaching strategies, inspired countless players, and left a lasting legacy in the NBA. His philosophical approach to the game and emphasis on mindfulness and togetherness continue to influence coaches and players to this day.

Hall of Fame Induction

In recognition of his exceptional contributions to the sport, Phil Jackson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in This honor solidified his status as one of the all-time greats in basketball history.


Phil Jackson is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating figures in the world of sports. With his unparalleled success as a coach and his unique approach to leadership, he has left an indelible mark on the basketball world. From his zen-like coaching philosophy to his record-breaking championship wins, Jackson’s career is filled with remarkable achievements.

His ability to bring out the best in his players and create a cohesive team dynamic has made him a legend in the sports world. His innovative strategies, such as the famous Triangle Offense, have revolutionized the game of basketball.

Whether you admire him for his coaching prowess or find his unconventional methods intriguing, there’s no denying that Phil Jackson is a true sports icon.


1. How many NBA championships has Phil Jackson won?

Phil Jackson has won a total of 13 NBA championships throughout his coaching career.

2. Which team did Phil Jackson coach the most?

Phil Jackson is most famous for his time as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. He won six championships with the Bulls and five with the Lakers.

3. What is Phil Jackson’s coaching philosophy?

Phil Jackson is known for his zen-like coaching philosophy, which emphasizes mindfulness, teamwork, and a focus on the present moment. He often incorporates Eastern philosophy and meditation techniques into his coaching approach.

4. What is the Triangle Offense?

The Triangle Offense is a basketball offensive strategy that places an emphasis on spacing, ball movement, and player interdependence. It was popularized by Phil Jackson during his coaching career and has been used by many successful teams.

5. Has Phil Jackson ever played in the NBA?

Yes, Phil Jackson played as a player for the New York Knicks during his basketball career. However, he is most well-known for his accomplishments as a coach.

Phil Jackson's legacy extends beyond basketball, influencing sports and culture worldwide. Explore more fascinating NBA facts, delve into the rich history of the Chicago Bulls, or discover iconic moments from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Learning about these topics will give you a deeper appreciation for the impact of sports and music on our society.

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