New York’s long-standing nightmare is finally over. One of the most storied franchises in the NBA is no longer held hostage by someone who managed to improbably char what was already a tender reputation to a full crisp.
While irreparable harm has already been done, Knicks owner James Dolan, who apparently found time in between his band’s gigs, made one of the few sensible moves in his tenure by getting rid of team president Phil Jackson before he could further damage the team’s prospects, as well as the Hall of Fame coach’s own legacy.
How’s it goink? Not great, Phil. Not great. Franchise prestige alone no longer buys as much as it used to, at least in terms of luring stars.
Before Jackson joined in 2014, the Knicks were already struggling to get meetings with star players. Fast forward three years and the team is now the punchline of the league, with players reportedly avoiding it like the plague. And no one was more responsible for the mess than Jackson.
Whether it was his insistence on strictly running an out-of-date offence in the triangle, or his inability to get along with the two most important members of the franchise, Jackson botched his time in charge.
No one is saying he should have turned the Knicks into title contenders. As much of a winner as Jackson is, and his 11 rings as coach serve plenty of evidence, the expectations were never at the level of a championship.
The wins and playoff appearances weren’t there either, but it’s the way Jackson went about his reign that really incensed the fan base. Everything had to be done his way and if it wasn’t, he had no problem wielding his power to prove a point – as he did by dangling phenom Kristaps Porzingis in trades just because the 21-year-old Latvian skipped his exit meeting.
Ironically, Jackson’s inability to connect with his players is maybe the funniest part of this whole saga. It’s impossible to coach teams to 11 titles without having some Xs and Os knowledge, but having dealt with complex, larger-than-life personalities in Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, Jackson received more credit for people management and ego-stroking.
Yet he couldn’t get Carmelo Anthony or Porzingis on his side and that, in the end, cost him. Maybe the Zen Master was never cut out for any of it, or maybe he’s lost touch. Whatever the case, fortunately for New York, it’s no longer their headache.
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