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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Lakers legends on brink
2004 NBA FINALS
Phil Jackson
6 June: Lakers 75-87 Detroit
8 June: Lakers 99-91 Detroit
10 June: Detroit 88-68 Lakers
13 June: Detroit 88-80 Lakers
15 June: Detroit 100-87 Lakers

LA Lakers coach Phil Jackson and several of his senior players stood on the brink of quitting the team after their series loss to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.

Jackson admitted that it was unlikely that he would return next season in a bid to coach his 10th NBA champions.

"Right now, I would say that it's a pretty slim chance I will be back coaching next year," he said after his team were beaten 100-87 in game five.

"I've had a lot of persuasion given to me by these kids.

"They were hoping I could win the 10th and retire but maybe losing this one is enough for me to say it's time to give it up."

Meanwhile, the future of senior players Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Gary Payton was uncertain.

Bryant has made know his intention to test the free agency market and must also turn his attention to a sexual assault trial in Denver.

O'Neal may also entertain other offers.

And veterans Malone and Payton, who both went to LA in search of an elusive NBA title, may now consider retirement.

Malone, who agreed a $17.5m (10m) pay cut to play for the Lakers, sat out Tuesday's game with a sprained right knee.

He led the Utah Jazz to the NBA finals in 1997 and 1998 but lost out on both occasions to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, who were then coached by Jackson.



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