Phil Jackson and the Knicks

18 Mar

At first I was skeptical—I’m of the belief that if a man’s first response to being offered a job is How often do I have to come into the office, well, that’s usually not a good sign. Also, there are all the questions—legitimate ones—about whether Phil Jackson is actually qualified to run an NBA team. We know he can coach. But can he scout and deal with agents and recruit and hire smart basketball people and parse through advanced stats and foster change and teamwork from up in an office as opposed to from the locker room and the bench? Also, he’s kind of old.

Phil Jackson, President of the New York Knicks, is not guaranteed to be a success.

Here’s the thing, though: With the Knicks, you’re not dealing with a typical NBA team. The reality of the situation is different. Would it be nice if the Knicks could, for once, do something normal and hire a smart young guy who’s been busting his ass and who knows the modern game, and hand him the reigns, and ability, to, as The Daily Show would say, polish the turd that is the Knicks, like Daryl Morey has in Houston, and Sam Presti has in Oklahoma City, and  Ryan McDonough  has in Phoenix.

Of course it would. And it would be much cheaper, too. But this is the Knicks we’re talking about. Or, more precisely, these are James Dolan’s Knicks. They are not ran like other teams, unless that team is Daniel Snyder’s Washington Redskins. Men hired to make basketball decisions are then not allowed to do just that. You think some hotshot, 35-year-old first-time GM would be the one who Dolan finally leaves alone?

This is why the Jackson hire is something Knicks fans should be excited about. Phil Jackson is the type of person who might actually be able to operate freely in the Garden. He’s a legend, and a star, and if he works out, James Dolan will become known as the one who brought Phil home, meaning that Phil Jackson might be one of, like, five people in the world who Dolan would be willing to take a backseat to.

And that is the only chance the Knicks have. They are are not a normal sports franchise; being ran by a paranoid egomaniac kind of takes normalcy out of the air. The only chance the Knicks have of climbing out of the black hole that they’ve fallen into is for someone to wrestle the reigns away from James Dolan, something no one except Isaiah Thomas has been able to do. The key difference here is that Phil Jackson knows basketball and how to win whereas Isaiah has never proven to know how to do anything other than play basketball and run businesses and organizations into the ground. No, it’s not a sure thing that he can apply his skills to his new position.

But at least, it seems, he’ll be given a chance to do things his way. And for the Knicks, any way that’s not Dolan’s is progress..


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