The news wasn’t made public at the time, but during the 2011 basketball season, former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson disclosed to the team that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The revelation is something Jackson talks about in his new book, “11 Rings,” due out May 21.
The information was made public through an article in the Orange County Register, a Southern California newspaper (via NBC Sports). Jackson waited until after the end of the season to undergo surgery, choosing to control the cancer temporarily with drugs. Jackson shared the diagnosis with his team because he felt they were “lacking something.”
The news didn’t help the Lakers, who were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs. The Mavericks went on to win the championship. Lakers power forward Pau Gasol remembers the meeting, calling the news “shocking.” However, he notes, “You also could understand certain moments of his demeanor, energy and involvement because of what he was going through health-wise. It explained certain things.”
Following the Lakers loss in the playoffs, Jackson left the team. Since then, the Lakers are on their third coach. After Mike Brown was fired from the position, assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff filled in as an interim for five games. Management eventually hired Mike D’Antoni, who continues as coach.