The best coach in the National Basketball Association officially announced his retirement last night, and it’s time for us to say “Congratulations Phil Jackson!” That isn’t just because his 1,155 wins and career .704 winning percentage is the best in NBA history, it’s also because North Dakota is proud of this hometown hero and hopes he has a heck-of-a-fun retirement!
Jackson was raised in Williston, North Dakota, and began his legendary basketball career there – leading the high school team to two state titles. Jackson went on to the University of North Dakota (in Grand Forks), where he helped the team to third- and fourth-place finishes in the NCAA Division II tournaments in 1965 and 1966.
In 1967, Jackson was drafted by the New York Knicks. He played professionally for 13 years and in 1987 began a coaching career with the Chicago Bulls that included a promotion to head coach in 1989. Jackson coached the Bulls to 6 championships in nine seasons.
In 20 years of coaching (9 with the Chicago Bulls and 11 with the Los Angeles Lakers), Jackson notched 11 championships and numerous other accolades. He coached some of the best in professional basketball, including Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
While we honor this great coach from Williston whose career took him across the nation, we recognize that dream starts wherever you play – including here in Bismarck with the NBA D-League Team, the Dakota Wizards.