DALLAS -- Not that one game could tarnish the legacy of the NBA's most accomplished, championship-collecting, barb-throwing coach of all time.
But the Los Angeles Lakers did what they could.
Sunday's postseason exit was as messy as it could get for the two-time defending champions, who were swept out of the Western Conference semifinals in four games by the Dallas Mavericks, the capper they sent Phil Jackson off with, a 36-point embarrassment.
"I'm not very happy about it, to say the least," said Kobe Bryant, his lips tight when asked what he thought of his coach's finishing game.
His other longest-tenured player, Derek Fisher, said the way the team lost made no difference, that they all hurt the same. Until someone mentioned Jackson.
"Over the next 24, 48 hours, we'll reflect on playing for the best coach of all time, but to think that that was the last time, that's tough to swallow," said Fisher.
It obviously wasn't the goodbye anyone anticipated. The farewell tour was scripted to last until June, including a run through the West, followed by an epic Finals showdown with someone-anyone, a 12th championship, and the final victory parade.
The main parade Sunday was the number of Dallas players (seven) racing to the three-point arc to exploit the Lakers' hole-ridden defense and turn the game into an early rout.
The only parade the Lakers seemed able to muster was a shameful one -- frustrated, ejected players marching off the floor, tagged with flagrant fouls. Fortunately, that halted at two after Lamar Odom deliberately rammed Dirk Nowitzki at midcourt and Andrew Bynum swatted the hard-driving Jose Barea out of the air within the same minute of the fourth quarter. By then, the deficit was 30.
Instead of a happy, on-court ending for whatever book he writes next, Jackson's self-described "last stand" ended with him evaluating a blowout loss, a rare early exit from the playoffs, and the only 0-4 sweep of his 20 years in the postseason.
"That second quarter was like the roof fell in on us," said Jackson of Dallas' 36-16 explosion, adding, "I wasn't happy with the way our players exited the game, on Lamar and Andrew's part. It was unnecessary, but I know they were frustrated."
If Jackson was frustrated -- and how could he not be? -- he didn't show it. He preferred his wise-guy persona in his final postgame press conference, even hinting that he wasn't necessarily gone.
"I haven't answered that, have I?" he said, grinning, when specifically asked if he was done. "And you're not going to force me to answer."
Don't count on a surprise, folks.
"But, yes," he continued. "This is, in all my hopes and aspirations, the final game I'll coach. This has been a wonderful run."
Then he was back to smart-aleck mode, referencing his final NBA fine, for complaining that officials had allowed Lakers playoff opponents to use illegal tactics defending Pau Gasol.
"I go out on a sour note after being fined $35,000 this morning," he said, grinning through the financial pain. "So that's not fun feeling like you're being chased down the freeway by them. But, as Richard Nixon says, 'You won't be able to kick this guy around anymore."'
Of course, Jackson won't have the league to kick around, either. Nor will NBA cities from Sacramento to New Orleans to Orlando, and back again, feel the sting of his insults. Nor will NBA players -- his own and everyone else's -- suffer his purposeful needling.
He leaves with singular coaching numbers: the most championships (11), and the highest winning percentages in the regular season (.704) and postseason (.688).
The only thing one final, horrendous loss can do to the author of that legacy is, perhaps, help him miss it just a little bit less.