Jackson out for Game Four

LOS ANGELES, May 11 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was not on the bench for their playoff game Sunday against San Antonio.

Jackson underwent an angioplasty at a Centinela Hospital Medical Center in nearby Inglewood on Saturday, and was released Sunday morning after undergoing another round of routine tests.


On the pre-game show, ABC/ESPN reporter David Aldredge indicated that doctors ordered Jackson to go home and rest and not coach Sunday, thus avoiding any stress.

It is not known if he will be cleared to travel to San Antonio for Game Five on Tuesday night.

Assistant Jim Cleamons led the Lakers in Jackson's absence.

Cleamons, a longtime assistant under Jackson and a former head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, is in his 11th year as an assistant with Jackson, seven with the Chicago Bulls and the last four with the Lakers.


"I know I'm subbing, but we're all on the same page," Cleamons said of coaching with fellow assistants Tex Winter, Frank Hamblen, and Kurt Rambis.

"We just have to remain focused and go out and do our job," said star guard Kobe Bryant. "He's a good teacher, and he's prepared us well enough."

Jackson experienced chest pains all last week, and the angioplasty was needed because the affected artery had 90 percent blockage.

The team's coaching staff was aware of his condition before Friday night's 110-95 win over San Antonio, a victory that cut the Spurs' lead in their Western Conference semifinal series to two games to one.

Jackson, 57, reportedly had experienced tightness and chest pains in the past week, and underwent tests before Friday night's game. The San Antonio News-Express said Jackson decided to wait until after contest to complete the battery of tests he underwent. At that time, it was decided that he needed the procedure.

He remained hospitalized overnight for observation, and underwent follow-up tests Sunday morning before being released.

A headline in Sunday's Los Angeles Daily News about Jackson said it all.

According to team spokesman John Black, Jackson risked "a major heart attack" if the angioplasty was not done. The paper also said members of his staff were aware that something might be seriously wrong with him.


"We were holding our fingers crossed that he would be able to make it through the game," Cleamons told the paper. "He wasn't his usual self -- his color, his demeanor. There were a couple times during the game when we asked him how he was feeling."

The report said during the procedure, an angioplasty balloon was inserted in the artery to clear the blockage, and a stent was implanted to prevent the artery from collapsing.

"Optimistically, what we're all hoping for is obviously that he'll be at the game," Black said before Jackson was ruled out. "He'll be on medication for several months, but if all goes well, he'll be able to coach the game."

"It has been an amazing nine months since August, with Chick Hearn's death all the way to now," guard Derek Fisher told the Orange County Register. "A lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. But we've still put ourselves in position to accomplish our goal."

Jackson guided the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships in his nine years as their head coach. He was named coach of the Lakers on June 16, 1999, and has guided them to three straight titles.


No coach is better in the postseason than Jackson, who suffered from kidney stones earlier this year. His plyoff record playoff record of 159-58 is the best in NBA history, and he is tie with the legendary Red Auerbach atop the all-time playoff wins list.

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