Phil Jackson, with another Lakers championship this season, would surpass Red Auerbach for a record 10th NBA title as a coach. But that accomplishment has less to do with talent than it does the passage of time, Auerbach said.
"I always knew it was going to be broken," Auerbach, 86, said. "For 20 years I held the record for the most wins, too, you know. Now four or five guys have passed me."
Jackson's Lakers open the NBA Finals against the Pistons Sunday in Los Angeles.
Auerbach, who won 938 games, said he's most proud of the 16 total championships - eight in a row from 1959-66 - that he amassed as a coach and executive with the Celtics. Jackson had plenty of help from team executives and assistant coaches winning his titles, Auerbach said.
In Chicago, where Jackson won six championships during the 1990s, the Bulls were led by five-time Most Valuable Player Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
In Los Angeles, Jackson took over a team with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. L.A. won three consecutive titles from 2000-02.
"What I don't like about Phil is that he never gave anybody else any credit," Auerbach said. "(Former general manager) Jerry West built that team."
RATINGS RISE: Ratings for the conference finals on TNT and ESPN were up by more than a third from last year. The Lakers' win over the Timberwolves in six games attracted an average 6.3 percent of U.S. households with TNT, up 38 percent. The Pistons' victory over the Pacers in six games averaged 3.8 percent of homes with ESPN, up 36 percent. TNT reaches about 88-million and ESPN about 89-million of the 108.4-million U.S. households with television sets.
KINGS: Assistant coach John Wetzel retired, ending a 25-year career in the NBA. Wetzel was Rick Adelman's top assistant with the Kings for six seasons as Sacramento reached the playoffs each season and won two Pacific Division titles. He coached with Adelman in Portland for six seasons and in Golden State for two.
KNICKS: Forward Kurt Thomas had surgery on the little finger of his right hand. He will wear a cast for six weeks. He led the team by averaging 8.3 rebounds this season.
NETS: Guard Jason Kidd had an MRI on his left knee, but the team will have no comment until the results are known. Kidd's left knee bothered him all season. He averaged 10.1 points in the East semifinals against the Pistons.