Phil Jackson Cancer: Former Lakers Coach Had Cancer During ’11 Playoffs

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
April 29, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Phil Jackson cancer: The legendary Lakers coach had prostrate cancer during the 2011 playoffs, according to his soon-to-be-released book.

Jackson was diagnosed with the cancer in March 2011, and decided to tell his players the situation “when he sensed the team was lacking something in the playoffs,” according to the Orange County Register, citing the book, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,” which will be released on May 21.

“Shocking,” Pau Gasol told the Register, remembering Jackson’s disclosure to the team. “But then 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. It was a shock. A difficult moment for the team.”

Gasol said it was difficult to know that the “physical and spiritual leader of the team” was so vulnerable.

The Dallas Mavericks ended up sweeping the Lakers during the second round of those playoffs, leading Jackson to question his decision. 

Jackson had surgery after the end of that season. 

Rumors have been spreading about Jackson possibly returning to coaching, especially to the Lakers, who were just knocked out of this year’s playoffs. 

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.