A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it. — George Moore

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My first thought was to hit the road. Once I got my body back in shape, I figured I’d get a dog and head across the country in a van, à la John Steinbeck. It was the perfect time to explore all the hidden corners of America I’d never seen.

I’ve been a rambling man at heart ever since my high school days, when my teammates and I would drive for miles across the plains en route to our next game. I love the freedom of the open road. I love the fact that you can never be entirely sure what awaits you over the next rise. As Steinbeck put it, “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

For me, the highway is a form of meditation. Throughout my life, I’ve turned to the open road whenever my life was in flux. Driving long distance makes me feel more engaged in the moment and transports me into a calmer, more contemplative state of mind. When I was experimenting with meditation in my twenties, I was inspired by the musings of another famous road warrior, Robert Pirsig. “You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense,” he wrote in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”

This time, however, my body wasn’t cooperating. First, right after the 2011 playoffs, I had to undergo prostate surgery, which laid me up for most of the summer. Then I had to lose weight and get myself in condition for a difficult knee replacement operation. The surgery went well, but the recovery was brutal. To make matters worse, I injured my Achilles tendon during the following summer in Montana and was still limping around after months of sporadic workouts. Disheartened, I put my travel plans on hold and returned to L.A. in the fall determined to make healing my number one job.

In late September 2012, Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers’ general manager, invited me to lunch to see how I was doing. He asked me if I was planning to get back to coaching any time soon, and I said I had no intention of doing that, especially if it meant moving to another city. At that point, I was interested in exploring sedentary front office positions, and I had a few possibilities in the works.

So I was surprised in early November when my fiancée, Jeanie, came home after meeting with her brother Jimmy, the Lakers’ head of basketball operations, and asked me to “please just hear him out” about returning to coach the team. Over the summer Jimmy and Mitch had made deals with two major stars — point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard — creating a “dream team” that prognosticators predicted had a good shot of winning the championship. But Mike Brown, who had taken over as coach the year before, had trouble getting the players to gel together at the start of the 2012-13 season and Jimmy decided they needed to replace him after the team went 0-8 in the preseason and dropped four of the first five regular games.