Phil Jackson’s “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success”

Life is good for Phil Jackson.

Two years removed from winning the 2010-2011 NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in his last season, Jackson has welcomed retirement and has no intention of returning to the sidelines. He’s now committed to being with fiancée Jeannie Buss (Lakers’ VP of business operations), watching the playoffs of the game he loves on TV and delving into the “weird world of Twitter.”

The rest of Jackson’s free time has been spent writing his new book, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,” which he co-wrote with Hugh Delehanty. As part of the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row events series, Jackson sat down with K.C. Johnson, the Tribune’s Bulls beat writer, at Palmer House Hilton May 23, to discuss his seventh book, now available in hardcover.

“There’s that personal feeling you get from dialogue with a reader and with an author when you’re participating in a book,” said Jackson. “I think it’s brought me closer to individuals to give them an inside look into some of the things that go on in a very varied coaching career that I’ve had.”

Johnson called Jackson’s work his “most revealing, personal book,” filled with anecdotes of moments with family, as well as how his prostate cancer diagnosis in March 2011 affects his well-being today.

Having coached some of the best teams and players the league has ever seen, Jackson has been a firsthand witness to greatness matched only by his own. Two of the game’s elite talents, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, have been products of Jackson’s coaching. From making Jordan the ultimate team player – embracing selflessness in lieu of a chance at a scoring title – to transforming a teenaged Bryant into one of basketball’s great leaders,Jackson addresses one of the most talked about player comparisons in his 334-page account, appeasing fans’ undying debate.

In the news himself seemingly every other week, Jackson addressed rumors he might take over at the helm of an NBA squad, saying bluntly, “I have no intention of coaching.”

Passed over by the Lakers organization prior to the 2012-2013 season for head coach Mike D’Antoni, Jackson found solace in his newfound freedom.

“The idea that I didn’t have to coach was a relief for me, because it felt like I was gonna have to come back and rescue,” said Jackson. “I’d been through that in 2004-05 when I returned to the Lakers before. Even though my fiancée is part of that family and part of the hierarchy in that organization, I really didn’t want to get pulled in.”

In addition to discussing his personal life, Jackson talked about the triangle offense, the triple-post offensive strategy in basketball he helped popularize.

“The triangle offense that we promoted all those years and thought was such a fine system has really been denigrated, I think, over the last three or four seasons,” he said. “A lot of people point to it as too difficult to run, too difficult an offense for present day NBA basketball, and I don’t think it’s true.”

Jackson said dribble-drives and high screen-rolls in today’s game, while often effective, don’t compare to the selfless triangle offense system he made synonymous with team basketball for so long.

Jackson, who won six championships with the Chicago Bulls (1989 through 1998) and five with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000 to 2010), holds the record for most championships in NBA history as a head coach. Known for his coaching techniques that are influenced by Eastern philosophy and spiritual teachings, the “Zen Master” will forever be among the pantheon of great pro sports coaches.

For now, Jackson is done adding to his coaching resume. With 11 rings under his belt, Jackson can enjoy life just a little more without the pressure of winning games, resting his successful soul for the next chapter.