BOSTON Leaning on the scorer's table, Phil Jackson rested the cane he uses for his troublesome hips against his thigh. He kept one eye on the court as his Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up their morning shootaround before Game 1 of the finals.
Above him hung 16 Celtics championship banners, reminders of Boston's mystique and its decades of dominance.
Nine of those titles were won by legendary coach Red Auerbach, the hoops patriarch and the man with whom Jackson shares the record for most NBA championships.
Jackson played against Auerbach's teams but never matched wits or Xs and Os with him, and the idea of possibly passing the cigar-toting maestro isn't foremost on the Lakers' leader's mind.
"That's something beyond what I want to focus on here," Jackson, who won six titles with Chicago and three with Los Angeles, said Thursday. "It (No. 10) has just been sitting there. It's been a large point. From a coaching standpoint, it's kind of meaningless because it's about the team and about the players. The idea you've been through it or that you've had guys who have won championships, that's a pretty wonderful thing.
"I have to wait until it (the record) happens to be able to grasp it all."
Jackson is reverent when it comes to Red. The opposite wasn't always true between the Hall of Fame coaches.
Auerbach, who died in October 2006, once downplayed Jackson's title trove by saying the former New York Knicks player "picks his spots," implying that his championships were the result of coaching stars such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
Jackson has always stayed on the high road when it comes to Auerbach. He respected Auerbach's ability to manage players as well as his basketball IQ. The Celtics were a well-oiled machine, and Auerbach was its main cog.
"What you admire about Red as a coach is that even though they had a limited number of offensive sets or plays, they had so many options out of it that they could always find a way," said Jackson, who played under another Red, Holzman. "Everybody figured into it. There was great team play. They understood each other's nature and how they played best, and they played to that.
"Even though you knew it was coming down the floor, you didn't know what the end result was going to be because they could always make up something and play out of it. They were very good at high post, low post, whatever they ran."
Auerbach's presence remains a constant with the Celtics. Last year, during his Hall of Fame induction, Jackson even joked that Auerbach had a hand in getting Boston back to championship form by helping orchestrate the trade that brought Kevin Garnett to the Celtics in a trade with Minnesota.
"We lost out on the Kevin Garnett sweepstakes," Jackson teased. "Red Auerbach came out of the grave and told (general manager) Kevin (McHale) to give him to the Celtics so the Celtics can get back in the running. That was a blessing, that connection. We just didn't have the connection to make that happen for us."
Jackson described his relationship with Auerbach as "really competitive. There was always this jocularity that went on, but there was always respect."