How is Phil Jackson celebrating his 65th birthday?
Talk about perfect timing. With eight days left before training camp begins for the Lakers, today marks Phil Jackson's 65th birthday, meaning it's more likely he'll celebrate it. It also serves as a tangible reminder of how fortunate Jackson has managed to overcome his health issues. Beyond the constant stress and fatigue that's worn on Jackson during the long and treacherous NBA season, he has had to monitor two hip replacements, withstand a chronically sore knee and periodically feeling bothered with kidney stones. As much as it's been a blessing for him to stay healthy, Jackson's competitive spirits surely is making him excited for the 2009-10 season. After all, that's what triggered him to reconsider his initial thought about retirement and come back for another season.
Below are a few ideas on what he might be doing
1. Jeanie Buss, the Lakers executive vice president and Jackson's girlfriend, tweeted him a Happy Birthday, and it's conceivable that the two are spending it together over a dinner and a movie. I can imagine after Buss buys Jackson dinner, he remarks, "I'm glad you're treating me to dinner. With the paycut your father made me take, I don't know if I could afford it."
2. Buss tweeted something else that the two might be enjoying on a relaxing day: "NBA TV having a Phil Jackson marathon. Check out 2002 Lakers vs. Nets final. Shaq free throws still kill me." This will prompt some mixed feelings. Jackson will wax nostalgia about the Lakers' three-peat and perhaps help him see applicable examples next season's team could follow to ensure another three-peat. But he'll also feel regret for how everything ended in the 2004 season, with both Shaq and Jackson leaving the team.
3. Birthdays are supposed to be a relaxing day, and there's no better coach that preaches that concept than Jackson. He goes through numerous sessions, involving meditation, massages, yoga and Pilates. It'll serve two purposes. It will relieve any worries from the external world, and it'll get him mentally prepared for the upcoming season.
4. Jackson customarily goes to Montana for the summer off-season. With eight days still away from training camp, there's no reason Jackson needs to ditch the quiet and picturesque confines of Montana for traffic congested and land deprived Los Angeles. It's going to be another day of hiking, swimming and fishing.
5. Jackson's already back to work. As much as he maintains an even keel and light-hearted attitude during the season, the Zen Master is insanely competitive.
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Photo: Lakers Coach Phil Jackson Credit: Gabriel Bouys /AFP/Getty Images