The litmus test involving Phil Jackson's attachment came when he found himself watching the Pan American Games on Wednesday night, and remained interested in the U.S.' 77-76 victory over the Dominican Republic.
No doubt, Jackson admitted on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 Thursday, that "it's great to be retired, especially if you've got nothing to do if you're a basketball coach, anyway." He's hardly detached from basketball.
Jackson still dates Lakers Executive Vice President Jeanie Buss, and Lakers Coach Mike Brown told reporters last week the two even had conversations when he stopped by the team's facility. Jackson attended this year's Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame, as both a presenter to triangle innovator Tex Winter and former Bulls forward Dennis Rodman. And he follows the NBA lockout proceedings with interest, remaining skeptical when the season will start.
I'm sure when the NBA games click on if they do this year or next calendar year, I'm going to check the games out at some point," Jackson said. "I'll miss the game a little bit, but that's natural."
And naturally, for Jackson, that only springboards into revisiting the Lakers' disappointing 2010-11 campaign. That involved a four-game sweep in the Western Conference semifinals to the Dallas Mavericks, leaving the Lakers short of his fourth three-peat and then seeing his assistant Brian Shaw get passed over as his successor.
"There is nothing that could have gone worse for a basketball team than the way we finished our season last year," Jackson said. "Struggling with New Orleans ... and going into the next round [against Dallas] we needed everyone to start playing well and we just couldn't find that little magical thing that you always hope you have as a coach, the chemistry that makes a team work well.
"To lose an 18-point lead in the first game [against the Mavericks], not being able to outscore your opponent on your home court in the fourth quarter," he said, "to give them life in the very first game of the Dallas series was foreboding what was going to happen to us. We didn't have the ability to play in the clutch like we had in the previous years."
That's why, even with Jackson lamenting how the travel and the long hours wore on his body, Waddle and Silvy remained convinced he'll come back to coach the Miami Heat in the 2012-13 season.
"Oh boy," was all Jackson would say, leaving the general public guessing on whether he remains content with retirement or inching for another comeback.
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Photo: Former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson leaves the court after the Lakers' Game 4 loss in Dallas. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 8, 2011