By: Kenny Irby
Edited By: Jennelle Alfred
I have been a Knicks fan since Pat Riley and his perfect hair graced the sideline at MSG.
That year they finished the season 51-31 and took the defending Champion, the Chicago Bulls, to a 7th game in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. You may not think of that as a special achievement, but that was Pat Riley’s first year with the team after having a 39-43 record the previous year ¾ that was a vast improvement that showed a team with a lot of heart you could be proud of.
Fast forward 24 years and that brings us to today’s NY Knicks and the questionable future that awaits them.
First, I would like to say I can’t wait for Melo to be traded. No, not for the reason you may think. I don’t blame him for the state of the Knicks at all, in fact I think he’s done everything in his power to make the Knicks a competitive franchise you could be proud of again, like they were in the 90’s. I think he should leave for his own peace of mind and have a real opportunity with a team who is committed to winning.
Presently the Knicks are not about winning. Why, you ask?Oh, let me tell you why the Knicks are currently in a sad state of affairs. Phil Jackson!
Phil Jackson who is arguably the greatest coach of all time, has a 1155-485 regular season record, 229-104 playoff record, 11 NBA Championships as a Head Coach and 1x Coach of The Year award. Yes, that Phil Jackson.The problem is: none of that translates to being able to run an organization.Don’t get me wrong, I was one of the Knicks fans who heard about the hiring and was excited, because of all those accolades, and figured this man has to know what he’s doing because he’s all about winning ¾ and more importantly he brought hope.
One of the few times you will hear me say I was completely wrong.Still that doesn’t lead to “sabotage” some might say, because maybe he’s just incompetent. Au contraire mon frere, the more I ponder this the more “sabotage” is the only conclusion I can come up with.Let me not say the “only” because he could not give a flying fig newton about his job and is just collecting on his 5 year/$60 million contract, which could be a strong possibility or combination of the two, but has the same end result the undoing of the New York Knicks.
When Phil Jackson took over as team president on March 18, 2014 the Knicks were 21-41 well outside of the playoff race being coached by Mike Woodson who went 54-28 the previous season. Under Mike Woodson, a long time NBA coach, they finished out the season 10-3 from when Phil took over and 16-4 in their last 20 games of the season. Finishing the season 37-45, 1 game outside of the playoffs. A silver lining to a terrible season and they showed some heart [that they maybe could carry over to the next season].
Phil has a different vision for the Knicks that involved the implementation of his “Triangle Offensive Philosophy”. He fires an experienced coach in Mike Woodson and hires one of his old players with no coaching experience, Derek Fisher ¾ through Phil’s philosophy and wheeling & dealing, which included a package trade of Tyson Chandler & Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Dalembert, Ellington and a couple of 2nd round picks.
No biggie he has a plan.Remember the season Phil trades JR Smith and Iman Shumpert as part of a 3 team trade with the Cavs and Thunder? I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say we got back a couple of useless players and another 2nd round pick.
This is the NBA mind you, not the NFL.There aren’t as many 2nd round gems as you may think. Sure, there have been great players found in the second round, but you don’t want to build your team around nothing but 2nd round draft picks. But to be fair, he was dealt a bad hand by the previous regime who traded our 1st round picks away.
So, in Phil we trust.They shut down Melo because he has a bum knee that needs surgery, so they finished the season 17-65. Bad, but not bad enough to get the top pick.We ended up with the 4th pick and they draft a kid no one ever heard of, Kristaps Porzingis. Now things started off a little shaky, but then we saw the kid play and he had a tremendous upside. Actual scouting skill or blind luck remains to be seen, but Phil is working his magic and we think the Knicks are headed in the right direction.
The Knicks are 22-22, already passing the win total from the year before and on the hunt for the playoffs. Then the wheels fall off. The Knicks lose 28 of the next 38 games finishing the season with a 32-50 record. They fired Derek Fisher in the middle of the season because he started to move away from the Triangle Offense and started alienating one of Phil Jackson’s long time assistants Kurt Rambis. Rambis is promoted to head coach so he can properly implement Phil’s philosophy.
As a coaching tandem they refused to stray away from an offense that clearly wasn’t working; they refused to address their point guard needs, continuing to play Jose Calderon who couldn’t guard a stop sign throughout the season; they didn’t develop young talent like Jerian Grant and there were stretches where Porzingis didn’t play in the 4th quarters of a game.Then there are rumors that Phil wants to keep Kurt Rambis as his Head Coach for next season. A man who has a career coaching record of 65-164. That, my friends was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Phil refuses to deviate from an offensive philosophy no one else in the NBA uses ¾ it only worked when he coached players named Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal & Kobe Bryant. A system no top tier free agent wants to play in. There are coaches available (the likes of Tom Thibodeau or Mark Jackson) and he wants to keep the guy with a career winning percentage under 30%.
Phil Jackson has effectively made the NY Knicks one of the most unattractive places to play. With no 1st round draft picks in 2016, no top tier free agents clamoring to come to NY, wasting the prime years of the one resident star that is on the roster, boasting a 49-115 record the last two seasons and spending majority of his time living in LA or on vacation.
Phil Jackson has completed his sabotage of the NY Knicks.This man is too smart not to know that the things he does are not working and he needs to adjust his way of thinking to accommodate the modern NBA. To just be stuck on an antiquated “Phil”osophy is to either be too stubborn to see the error in your ways or you’re just doing this on purpose.
The Knicks will have a long drawn out road to respectability that will only start once Phil has decided to just take his money and leave.