WHITEFISH, Mont. — Seeing Nuggets coach George Karl sidelined last season with cancer will influence Phil Jackson's upcoming decision on whether to return as coach of the Lakers, the legendary coach said at a meeting of Western governors on Sunday.
Jackson told reporters after his speech to the Western Governors' Association that he's waiting to hear from doctors on whether he's healthy enough to make it through another 82-game regular season.
The 64-year-old said he wouldn't want to leave his squad without a coach in the middle of the season, as Karl was forced to do this year while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for throat and neck cancer.
"My concern to be quite blunt, is I don't want to happen what happened to Denver and George Karl," Jackson said.
Jackson, whose speech Sunday was largely about growing up in the rural West, has two replaced hips, a sore knee requiring a brace under his suit during the season and a previous heart problem.
He's one of the most successful coaches in league history with a .705 regular-season winning percentage, a record 225 postseason victories and two more titles than Boston's Red Auerbach. The Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 7 last week to claim their second straight title, and Jackson sounds increasingly interested in going out on top.
But he told the governors that his 13 championships — two as a player — seems like an odd figure.
"Which is a hard number to stop at if you think about it," he said to enthusiastic applause.
Players like Kobe Bryant have lobbied for his return.
Free agent frenzy: Chris Bosh was in Miami over the weekend, and one of the items on his agenda was an appearance at a charity golf tournament hosted by his pal DJ Irie — the in-game music-mixer for the Heat. And while Bosh says Miami is one of his possible cities, the prospects of year-round golf won't be one of the ways the Heat could lure him to South Florida: "I have golf clubs, but I wouldn't say I'm a golfer." … With the Cavs, Heat, Bulls, Knicks, Nets and Clippers being the teams most watched in free agency, don't sleep on the Magic getting something done. Though the Magic doesn't have the cap room of those other clubs, there's growing sentiment that Hedo Turkoglu wants to return to Orlando — a reminder that Toronto has more decisions to make than just awaiting whether Bosh stays or goes.