The New York Knicks held a press conference on Tuesday, introducing Phil Jackson as team president. We knew about Jackson coming to the team in some capacity as early as two weeks ago. Two weeks of speculation, negotiation of a contract, and now, Phil officially returns to the Knicks 36 years later. He was a player then, but now he will be in charge of constructing a championship-caliber team. The task may seem impossible at the moment ,but Jackson’s 11 NBA Championships as a coach and two as a player speak for themselves. It also doesn’t hurt that he is, in fact, the Zen Master.
At the press conference, I was intrigued by Jackson’s talk of fundamental basketball. He said he noticed, “a tremendous amount of footwork incorrectly.” He also referred to the flaw in the New York Knicks’ game as, “high school, junior high stuff.” Although Jackson is absolutely right, that doesn’t sound good at all for Mike Woodson. It’s basically another reason why Woodson has failed as a coach this season, because incorrect footwork is something the coach should be pointing out to his players. Whether the players listen to him or not is another dilemma.
When asked about coach Woodson, Jackson made it clear that he is very supportive of Woodson. Jackson referred to the playoffs a few times and clearly believes that the Knicks will be in the postseason. He spoke well of Carmelo Anthony, calling him one of the best isolation players in the NBA. He did also say that Anthony has room to grow. Whether Jackson intends on trying to sign Anthony next season has yet to be seen, but if he doesn’t make a strong push for Anthony, Jackson is sure to have a trick or two up his sleeve.
What was most interesting about Jackson’s words was when asked about the triangle offense which Jackson has been so successful with in the past. Anthony is not a triangle offense player; he isolates and takes a defender one-on-one. It’s a known fact that Jackson does not like the way Anthony plays offense. Jackson is a triangle guy, and when asked about it, you could tell he broke away from the question. Although, Jackson did mention his principles of “logical” basketball.
Later in the day, Jackson was on the Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio. I tuned in just as Jackson was talking about his style of coaching, the way basketball should be played. He mentioned the rare use of timeouts to keep the game flowing. He likes passing and stealing, fast breaks and most importantly, keeping the defense guessing. Jackson pointed out that every time you call a timeout, the defense is much more prepared than when the game flows for a few minutes and your offense is able to consistently create the high-percentage shot.
There’s no question that Jackson has a great philosophy on the game. James Dolan promised that Jackson has total control of the team and if that holds true, the Knicks are in good hands. It’s going to be interesting to see how Jackson builds this team in the coming years. It’s going to be even more interesting to see how Anthony fits into the triangle offense. That is, if he’s still in New York next season.