The New York Knicks made headlines today when it was announced that they have elected to part with Head Coach Derek Fisher. The news was handed down from Team President Phil "The Thrill" Jackson, who interestingly enough coached Fisher when Fisher was the head floor general for the late ninety/early two thousand dynasty Los Angeles Lakers. Fisher earned almost constant praise who handed down Fisher a plethora of accolades pertaining to his on-court leadership ability. The thought was, and not just from Jackson that this would translate Derek into becoming an excellent Head Coach someday in the Association, and it very well may but that day unfortunately for basketball fans of New York did not take place which left Phil with no other choice but to fire his former pupil and allowing Kurt Rambis to take over on an interim basis.
The reason I brought this discussion point up tonight is not because a coach got fired, as this has become common place, some say too frequent in professional sports but to analyze the worth of Jackson and bring into question whether or not Jackson's reputation of being one of the greatest ever is deserved or whether he's been dragged along throughout the years by the likes of Jordan, Pippen, Kobe, and Shaq. Interesting discussion to be sure, and I tend to slide in the former ledger.
Jackson, who made his professional debut in 1987 as an assistant of the Chicago Bulls, was quickly promoted to head bench boss a little less than two years later, in many individuals eyes won the coaching lottery. How can that statement not ring true when coming to the full realization that he was graced with a young Michael Jordan, a poor man's Steph Curry in Scottie Pippen, one of the original bad boys but yet ferocious rebounder in Dennis Rodman and then overlooked complimentary pieces such as Toni Kukoc, Luc Longley, and long time Orlando Magic Horace Grant. The team was deep and quite frankly a lot of coaches could've stepped into the same situation and equated the same level of success. Some(most) will view the aforementioned remark as an egregious statement but I hold true to my beliefs. In hockey, was it due to Dan Bylsma that the Pittsburgh Penguins delivered a Stanley Cup in 2009? No one in their right mind would cosign that it was Bylsma that was the missing link, the team was going to win eventually when you have at the time the best player on the planet in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Coaches that exceed expectations are held highly in the world of this blogger but I maintain quite strongly that a coach that wins when it's expected to win, and when anything less is considered a monumental failure relies on pre-existing factors and his or hers coaching abilities don't deserve the recognition they receive.
If the assumption that I don't hold Jackson's successes highly wasn't obvious enough already, I'll try to further continue on this tangent. In society, referring to somebody as a "whore" is rightfully viewed as derogatory but I hope no offence is taken when I label Phil as a "Championship whore". He leaves the Bulls in 1998, conspicuously when Jordan's career begins to fade down and hops on over to Southern California to coach the Lakers. This is a Lakers team that was able to lure Shaquille O'Neal over, partly to fulfill his Hollywood aspirations, I mean really who can forget Kazaam?? They also were able to acquire some young Philadelphia hot shot...what's his name again....o right, Kobe Bryant! Not a bad nucleus to begin his Lakers endeavour with. In Chicago, he received a pioneer rep for instituting the Triangle offence, something that was carried forward into Los Angeles. This triangle offence is perhaps my biggest bone of contention when it comes to dissecting Jackson's worth. Simply put, great players make a great offence and Jackson could've implemented the most complicated, research tested and failed methods and it wouldn't of mattered. When you hand the ball to Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, it doesn't matter what the play call is, they'll score. The Raptors from ten years ago know this all too well(eighty one point flashbacks). The triangle offence is a fancy way of describing get the ball into the best player. I would've loved to see Jackson attempt this offense with the likes of Mugsy Bogues, Andrea Bargnani and Popeye Jones? I'm going to assume his egotistical line of thinking will claim it would've meant multiple championships, but as I eluded to earlier he would've never considered coaching anywhere else as for him it was championship or bust.
The current plight of the New York Knicks is a tricky one and if anything it should verify what I've been preaching this entre entry. The New York Knicks don't have the necessary talent and sure enough the great Phil Jackson, the man overseeing this enterprise is left with his tongue out not knowing what the next move should be. Even though Porzingis, the young European they picked up at the 2015 draft projects to be a nice player and Carmelo is good for 25-30 a night, that's about in the New York cupboard. This is my opinion, I think by Phil landing in New York he presumed that more household names would follow and for his sake unfortunately didn't happen. Phil was out of options and his strategical maneuvers reek desperation as he went so far to aleniate a relationship in Derek Fisher to try something to right this broken ship.
It may not happen this year, probably not next year and not likely even the year after but at some point, those impatient New Yorkers will soon have enough and Jackson will find himself in the hot seat and will then look for the next destination that can guarantee championship. For Phil's overrated basketball mind, he better go somewhere that has actual talent, hello Golden State? I can hear the cringing from Golden State fans all the way from Regina at the slightest thought of that notion.