By Mark Jones

Williston Herald

Williston High School graduate Phil Jackson was in town this weekend for his 50th high school class reunion as well as to speak at the Banquet of Champions for the 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series.

On Friday afternoon, Jackson met with area media members to discuss a wide range of topics.

During the press conference, Jackson made it clear he has no intentions of returning to coach.

"I have no intention of coaching," he said. "I am still recovering from multiple surgeries."

Jackson is currently experiencing back problems, which require him to use a walking cane.

Williston hosting Babe Ruth World Series

Jackson has high praise for the community in hosting the 2013 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series.

"It's a great thing to be able to host it," he said. "I know they have had issues with lodging, but the field looks great. I think the town will support it."

On Williston then and now

Jackson says he had a tough time realizing he was in the town he went to high school in.

"It's hard to recognize," he said. "I was here about 20 years ago for the dedication of the (Phil Jackson Fieldhouse). It was a sleeper town then and it's hyperactive now."

He also says the city has great hope.

"Williston is emerging with hope (for the future)," Jackson said.

How did growing up in Williston help you to become what you have accomplished?

Jackson learned plenty during his time growing up in northwest North Dakota.

"A lot of life lessons were learned in this town," he said. "I started playing all sports in Great Falls, (Mont.) and moved here when I was 6."

The most difficult team to coach against

The Detroit Pistons of the early 1990s with Dennis Rodman, Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer were always the toughest team for Jackson to coach against.

"The Detroit Pistons were always hard to coach against," Jackson said. "When I first got to Chicago, we had a couple of fracas."

Looking ahead to the future

Jackson would not elaborate specially on what the future holds. However, he did say he is focused on it.

"What lies ahead is very important," he said.

His plans in Williston

His trip to Williston was two-fold.

"It's my 1963 class reunion," Jackson said. "So I will be dancing."

To this day, Jackson maintains close relationships with many of his schoolmates.

"There's been a number of them, mostly guys," he said. "We usually have a yearly get away (out West)."

The UND mascot

Jackson has a definite opinion on the movement to change the Fighting Sioux nickname at the University of North Dakota.

"You can't be attached because it's been a mascot (for years)," he said. "If it's offensive to people, we need to change it, gracefully."

Jackson is glad is glad UND is moving in that direction.

As a athlete at Williston High School, Jackson was a four-sport athlete. In addition to basketball, Jackson also played baseball, football and threw the discus for the track and field team.

Jackson won 11 National Basketball Association titles as a coach, and won two more as a player for the New York Knicks in 1970 and 1973. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. In 1996, as part of celebrations for the NBA's 50th anniversary, Jackson was named as one of the 10 greatest coaches in league history.