LOS ANGELES (AP) _ He knew the drill. Knew just where to stand, off to the side, so that the boss and the kids got to hold the trophy first.

You don't come to a new town with six championship rings, like Phil Jackson did, without knowing a thing or two about celebrations. And so Jackson hung at the edge of the frame for as long as he could Monday night, savoring his seventh trophy while they clamored to touch their first, letting the same bunch of Lakers he spent a year controlling run wild.

``What a way,'' Jackson said, ``to start the millennium''

It was easy to look at the snapshot of Kobe Bryant jumping into Shaquille O'Neal's arms the second the 116-111 decision over Indiana was complete, and wonder why it took a new coach to end the Lakers' title drought at a dozen years.

Jackson never wondered. When he decided to come back to basketball after a year off, he looked at those two and knew he already owned the biggest piece of any championship puzzle.

Jackson learned to respect talent by respecting the best _ Michael Jordan. That was what enabled him to patch up the rift between Bryant and O'Neal. Because he could watch both of them play their best and honestly say he'd seen better. And because he had the rings to prove it.

And so it wasn't a coincidence that Jackson walked in the door and stories of the Shaq-Kobe feuds dried up.

``He found out exactly how to talk to each of them and he let them go out and work on one another,'' said John Salley, another former member of the Chicago Bulls crew that Jackson brought out West. ``And when he did that, these guys went out and realized what they had to with one another.

``They realized they weren't at odds. Just on a losing team and in a losing situation.''