Last week I wrote a story chronicling the pathetic, miserable, ridiculous, disappointing 2013-14 New York Knicks season. Terrible…horrible…a joke.
But wait a minute now. Yesterday morning saw one of the most amazing and quite unbelievable turnarounds in the history of sports. Did they make the playoffs? No. Did they sign LeBron? No. Did Michael Jordan come out of retirement to team up with Shaq at the Garden. Thankfully…NO! But what happened yesterday was akin to the day Bill Parcells accepted Leon Hess’ invitation to take over the JETS. Parcells took over a team that was a joke for several years and immediately made them relevant…a contender…a team to be reckoned with.
I believe Phil Jackson will have no less of an effect on the Knicks. And I believe he will do something with the Knicks that Parcells didn’t do with the Jets..and that is win a championship.
Jackson’s resume is an amazing accounting of EXCELLENCE. He knows what to do and how to do it. Michael Jordan was just another scorer before Jackson took over. Jordan was a great player waiting for the system. In LA Jackson found another jewel in Kobe Bryant. Once adapted to the system the Lakers went on to win multiple rings. I think we are looking at a similar situation with The Knicks. Carmelo Anthony already realizes he will have to adapt to the system if he truly wants to win a ring in New York. Jordan and Kobe are superior players to Anthony. Granted. But with the right supporting cast, and the right system I see no reason why Anthony can’t be a champion.
I have always respected the unique abilities of Phil Jackson. As a player back in the day, he was all arms and elbows, wailing and flailing away. He made the great defensive play…intimidated with his fearless and fierce rebounding style and was a consummate team player.
When he became massively successful with the Bulls, I was annoyed and miffed that one of our guys had become the enemy, and a most formidable one at that. How many times did Jackson and his Bulls stand in the way of Patrick Ewing and the Knicks from getting to the finals? Too many. How many times did they win the rings we could have won? Ok Ok The Bulls had far superior talent. Jordan had Pippen. Cartwright, Clarke, Kerr, Paxson and Rodman in the system whilst they were winning all those championships. We had Oakley and Starks…a couple of tough, gritty, big heart dudes withtoo much intensity and too little ability to get the Knicks to the promised land. You can’t say they didn’t try. They gave everything they had all the time. Just wasn’t enough. And wouldn’t it have been great if Ewing and Bernard King could have had 3 or 4 years together to try and grab a ring?
So the bright spot in this MISERABLE SEASON for the NY Knicks is Jim Dolan handing the keys of the franchise to Phil Jackson. I heard Dolan on with Mike Francesca yesterday afternoon saying that he gave complete control to Jackson…and happily so. If that’s really true a I think a championship may finally be in the cards after all these years. Of course I doubt Phil Jackson would have agreed to come to NY unless he had complete control. It ain’t gonna’ be easy undoing years of wacky moves, bad contracts and questionable tactics. The Knicks need a power forward with tough rebounding and an inside offensive game to complement Tyson Chandler and open up things up for Carmelo. They need a second legitimate offensive option…something they thought JR Smith could be. Maybe Hardaway Jr is that guy? They need a perimeter defender that shows up every night…ahem…listening Mr. Shumpert? How about a point guard who dishes… and swishes? Jackson has said that this year, with no first round pick, and lots of tough contracts, he will seek to improve the team by finding the “grinders”, the players who are all around good team players who are flying below the radar. The summer of 2015 is when the serious stars become free agents, and Jackson will be able to put the team on a championship caliber level. Chris Paul, LeBron, Aldrige, Durant all become free agents that season. It could get very interesting. Many moves will be forthcoming…but at least for now we can all rest assured that whatever the moves are, they will make good basketball sense with a carefully thought out plan. The idea is to win a championship…right?
As I was writing this The Knicks were beating the Pacers at the Garden to get their 7th win in a row with Phil Jackson in the stands watching the proceedings.
Welcome home Phil.