In 1967, he became a part of the New York Knicks, a professional basketball team based in New York. He joined the team as a second-round draft choice.
In 1970, the New York Knicks basketball team were the winners of the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship. They were also winners of the 1973 NBA championship.
With the retirement of top-notch players, he became one of the leading substitutes. During the 1974-75 season, he made a total of 330 personal fouls, which he shared with Bob Dandridge of the Milwaukee Bucks.
In 1979, he went to Hudson to play two seasons for the New Jersey Nets professional basketball team. In 1980 he officially retired as a basketball player.
After his retirement as a player, he took to coaching a few lower-level leagues like the Puerto Rico's National Superior Basketball and the Continental Basketball Association. In 1987, he was appointed as the assistant coach to the Chicago Bulls, a professional basketball team based in Chicago.
In 1989, he was appointed as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls and he subsequently coached the team for over 9 seasons. During this period, the team won a total of 6 championships.
As a result of differences with the manager of the Chicago Bulls, he left the team after the 1997-98 season. After a year of hiatus, he joined as a coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999.
His team, Los Angeles Lakers were the winners of the 2000 NBA championship, after beating the Indiana Pacers. Over the next two years, the team won two titles against the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets.
In 2004, he officially retired as the coach of Los Angeles Lakers. The following 2004-05 season was a very disappointing one for the Lakers and the team wanted to hire him again.
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Later in 2004, he published his book titled, ‘The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul’. In the book he highlighted the various ups and downs the Los Angeles Lakers experienced in the 2003-2004 season.
In 2005, he was re-appointed as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. After the re-appointment, the team improved its performance considerably and played well in the following seasons.
In December 2008, the Los Angeles Lakers won a match against the Celtics team. This was the team’s first matchup since the previous year’s finals. With this, he became the sixth coach to win 1000 games.
In 2009, he successfully led Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA finals. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic team with a score of 4–1.
In 2010, he led the Los Angeles Lakers to yet another victory as the team successfully went on their fifth consecutive playoff berth and won the NBA championship. The Same year, he published his book ‘Journey to the Ring: Behind the Scenes with the 2010 NBA Champion Lakers’.
For the 2010-11 season, he resumed his position as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. This was his last season as the team’s coach as he retired in 2011.
In 2013, he came out with the book ‘Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success’., in which he depicted his experiences while he was a player for the New York Knicks and also highlighted several tips on being successful at the game.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1967, he married Maxine, with whom he had a child. They divorced in the year 1972.
In October 1974, he married June and they were blessed with four children. The couple divorced in 2000.
In March 2011, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He has publicly admitted that he has used lysergic acid diethylamide and marijuana.
In January 2013, he got engaged to American businesswoman, Jeanie Buss.