One Chicago Bull down, how many more to go?
After six NBA titles in eight years, the running of the Bulls has begun, with coach Phil Jackson the first to say goodbye.Jackson made good on his pledge that this was his last season, turning down an offer from Chicago chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to coach another year, agent Todd Musburger confirmed Sunday. Jackson's departure was first reported in an interview with Newsweek magazine, which went on sale today.
"I said no, it's time for me to step away and enjoy some different things," Jackson told Newsweek.
"For me, it's the perfect conclusion to a wonderful team. There's nothing we can do to top this anymore. Now it's time to step back from the game for a while."
Neither Jackson, Reinsdorf nor Bulls general manager Jerry Krause returned messages left for them Sunday by the AP. But Reinsdorf told the Chicago Tribune that Jackson was offered a deal for at least his same $6 million salary, regardless of whether Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen return.
That Jackson left is no surprise. After saying all season this was it - he even coined the Bulls' sixth championship run the "Last Dance" - it was a question of when, not if, he would announce his departure.
So now that he's made it official, what happens to the rest of the Bulls? Jordan, Pippen, Dennis Rodman and six others on the 12-man playoff roster are free agents.
Jordan once said he would only play for Jackson, though he's retreated from that lately. Pippen, unhappy after years of being undervalued and underpaid, has said repeatedly he would rather go somewhere else, but he too has softened his stance. Rodman wants to return, but only if the rest of the gang comes back.
Jackson told Newsweek he thinks Jordan, who scored the title-winning basket as the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in six games, will retire.
"I can't imagine him doing it again. I don't know but I anticipate that's how he feels," Jackson told Newsweek.
Jordan's decision probably will hinge on who replaces Jackson. Iowa State coach Tim Floyd is a Krause favorite, but it's unlikely Jordan would play for him.
But Jordan would probably play for fellow Tar Heels George Karl or Roy Williams. Karl is out of a job after being fired by the Seattle SuperSonics a few weeks ago. Williams has said many times he's happy at Kansas.
"All of the principles involved have individual reasons for whatever choices they make," Musburger said.