Former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has been communicating with current Lakers center Dwight Howard, mostly via text messages, according to ESPN, offering advice about how to come back from back surgery.
“I’ve had people really just help me out,” Howard said .”Guys like Phil [Jackson], he texts me and he understands how it is to come off back surgery. He just said it takes a full year to recover, so you can’t beat yourself up over the things that have happened this year.”
Jackson has a bit of firsthand experience with back ailments, as he underwent spinal fusion in 1969, missing out on a championship season with the New York Knicks.
He was able to return the following season and play through 1980, so he does know about coming back from serious back surgery.
News of this Jackson-Howard relationship has to come as a surprise to NBA fans, as the Lakers unceremoniously spurned Jackson in the beginning of the season in their search for Mike Brown’s replacement as head coach.
Jackson was thought to be the front-runner, but at the final hours, the team (and Jim Buss) decided to go with Mike D’Antoni instead.
The condition of Howard’s back after surgery last spring has been at the forefront of every Los Angeles Lakers fan’s mind, as his surgically repaired back and the torn labrum in his right shoulder have been hampering him all season.
During the past month, Howard has said his back has kept him out of tip-top condition and impacted his play.
Whether it be advice on how to play in the post, how to stay patient with a back injury or just how to bake the best apple pie, Howard talking to Jackson can only be a good thing.