For the past ten years, Skip Bayless has mostly been known as the guy who makes bold, outlandish takes on TV every weekday. But prior to his jump to TV, the Undisputed personality had a long career as a sports columnist at various different publications. It’s quite clear he had a zest for hot takes back then as well. One Bayless doozy we uncovered is a 1999 column he wrote in reaction to the news that the Los Angeles Lakers had just hired former Bulls head coach Phil Jackson.
In 1998, right after the Bulls won their third straight championship, Michael Jordan retired and most of their other players bolted. Jackson, who had no desire to start over, bowed out as well. By the end of the 1998-99 season the Bulls were in complete rebuliding mode and Jackson was off to LA to coach a young, dynamic Lakers squad that included Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. In his column, titled “Jackson Goes West: Another Bit Of Fiction Lands In L.a,” Bayless, then with the Chicago Tribune, argued that without Michael Jordan, Jackson wouldn’t see the same success with the Lakers…
“For now, Jackson has fooled the Lakers, their followers and himself. After he was introduced Wednesday as the new Lakers coach, Los Angeles seemed to believe the ‘Zen master’ also will rid the city of traffic, smog, earthquakes and Roseanne.
Before long Los Angeles will learn the same expensive lesson with Jackson that Houston learned with Scottie Pippen and San Antonio with Steve Kerr and Phoenix with Luc Longley and the Lakers with Dennis Rodman and that Chicago will learn with General Manager Jerry Krause.
They were all much better with Michael Jordan. The magic-by-association is non-transferable.”
Without the greatest player ever’s underappreciated ability to coach and play, Jackson is just a pretty good coach, spell-binding orator and sly politician who was charismatic enough to win Jordan’s friendship and undying loyalty. Jordan made Jackson, not vice versa.
In L.A. they’re celebrating ‘vice versa.; Media friends there tell me they can’t remember fans and critics so unanimously, unconditionally joyful over any move made by any L.A. team. It is now official: The Lakers have won the next three NBA titles, if not more.
Of course, the magic transferred just fine. Ironically, as Bayless sarcastically predicted, with Phil in charge, the Lakers did win the next three NBA titles, and more. Five total to be exact. Hows that for clutchness?