The Lakers won the NBA championship last night, beating the Orlando Magic 99-86. The win gave coach Phil "the Zen Master" Jackson his tenth NBA title as coach, making him the most accomplished man ever to coach in the NBA, and he intended to celebrate with a smoke.
Jackson, who had been tied at nine victories with Red Auerbach, a man who was seldom seen without a cigar in hand, told the media after the game that he would fire up in honor of moving past the Celtics legend. "I'll smoke a cigar tonight in memory of Red," Jackson said. "He was a great guy."
Jackson won his first six titles with the Chicago Bulls, leading a team that included Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. He left the Bulls in 1998, after feuding with Chicago general manager Jerry Krause, and took a year off before returning to coaching with the Los Angeles Lakers. In his first year with Los Angeles, the Lakers won the NBA title. Last night's victory was his fourth with Los Angeles.
As gaudy as Jackson's ten NBA championships are, even more impressive is the fact that teams under his stewardship have won three in a row on three occasions: his Bulls did the "three-peat" twice, and the Lakers did it once.
Auerbach (who died in 2006) and Jackson have both worn the title of cigar aficionado. Auerbach smoked victory cigars on the Celtics bench when his team was comfortably ahead, and was so synonymous with cigars that back in the days when one could still smoke in some restaurants, Boston's Legal Seafood put these words on its menu: "No cigar or pipe smoking, except for Red Auerbach."
Jackson coached in a different era, where puffing in a NBA arena was impossible. In a 1998 interview, he claimed cigars relaxed him in the same way meditation did. "I owe it all to meditation and to cigars," he said. Jackson cut his NBA coaching teeth with the Chicago Bulls, owned by ardent cigar lover Jerry Reinsdorf, who gave cigars to his star Michael Jordan.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Source: Cigar Aficionado