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Phil Jackson showcases his Zen at Glendale's Alex Theatre

Hall of Fame Los Angeles Lakers coach visits Alex Theatre for question and answer, book signing.

June 12, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • Phil Jackson, legendary NBA Hall of Fame coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, stopped by the Alex Theatre for a question-and-answer and book-signing event.
Phil Jackson, legendary NBA Hall of Fame coach of the Los… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

GLENDALE — Two years removed from his last game with the Los Angeles Lakers, it was obvious that the appeal of NBA Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson has not waned.

At least that was the case for a sold-out audience that packed the Alex Theatre on Wednesday evening for “Phil Jackson in conversation with John Salley,” a roughly hour-long conversation and question-and-answer event in the Live Talks LA series that also included a book signing of Jackson’s latest work, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.”

Jackson, 68, the famed former coach of the Lakers and Chicago Bulls and an NBA champion with the New York Knicks, spent about 45 minutes conversing with TV host and former NBA player John Salley, who played under Jackson in both Chicago and Los Angeles.

Jackson also answered questions from the audience as topics throughout the evening ranged from Jackson’s time as player, his coaching in both Chicago and Los Angeles, comparisons between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and between Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain, to name a few items.

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Salley immediately broke the ice at the event, when the host handed Jackson his copy of “Eleven Rings” to sign, which brought immediate laughter from the crowd, which only moments earlier gave Jackson a welcoming standing ovation that included chants of, “We love Phil.”

Then Salley opened with a simple inquiry.

“I just have one question. Why did you cut me,” Salley quipped to the roar of the crowd. “That’s all I came for.”

To which, Jackson replied: “I brought John to Chicago for the last championship run and then John was here in L.A. for the first championship,” Jackson said to open dialogue. “This conversation has been going on for years.”

About seven minutes into the show, Salley hit on an over decade-long hot button issue for Lakers fans in questioning the relationship between O’Neal and Bryant.

Jackson noted that “it had been a challenge to bend both players’ wills and ego to be able to play with each other and with their teammates,” and that some of the antics, including that both players used separation trainers “was teenage-stuff.”

Some of that youthfulness manifested in strange ways, Jackson mentioned, including how O’Neal one day showed up to practice nearly nude, while only wearing sneakers to lighten up the mood.

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