New York Knicks’ president Phil Jackson must succeed with this organization if only for his own legacy’s sake.
By Jeremy Fialkow
To coach or not to coach?
These days that’s the question drowning Phil Jackson’s mind as his New York Knicks continue another disaster of a season.
By now everyone’s heard the rumors swirling nationwide, courtesy of ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. There have been discussions about Jackson making a return to coaching, even if for only the Knicks’ home games, while inept interim Head Coach Kurt Rambis mans the away-schedule.
Jackson’s resume as a coach speaks for itself. It’s nearly unrivaled by any other in the sport’s history.
On the other hand, two of the greatest coaches of all-time played significant roles in constructing perpetual championship winning rosters.
Pat Riley won five titles a coach, and he’s kept his Miami Heat team relevant since becoming President in 1995. Gregg Popovich roams the sidelines leading the top-caliber Spurs. Even Pop has shown his shrewd nature assembling an NBA roster, serving as San Antonio’s President of Basketball Operations since the mid 1990s, earning five titles along the way.
For a second here, forget about the two rings Jackson won as a Knicks player. Forget about the six rings he won coaching Michael Jordan‘s Bulls. Forget about the other five he won coaching Kobe, Shaq, and the Los Angeles Lakers. And make sure you forget about the revolution that was his triangle offense, supposedly capable of systematically defeating even the most stingy of defenses.
It’s about time Jackson hovers around the real issue at hand, the issue that resonates with every single diehard of this historic Knickerbocker franchise:
To win or not to win?
Two years ago, the Zen Master inked a deal with James Dolan’s Knicks, paying him $12 million a year in exchange for his insight dealing with making this club a winner.
From the moment he came aboard, Jackson decided to thrust his team into rebuilding mode. Subsequently, the Knicks had their worst season in franchise history, going 17-65 in 2014.
Heading into this season many believed the current roster would compete for a playoff spot. Many people were proved wrong. Now, they are in another pitch-black tunnel with no end in sight, far out of playoff position and without a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
No one can blame Jackson for their disgusting record given his managerial decisions. However, because he’s chosen to go the “strip-down, build-up” route, it’s time he commits to the troupe’s future well-being.
Certainly, Jackson now understands his job is to create an environment that breeds success, eventually leaving basketball fans thinking dynasty years down the road, right?
By remotely considering a return to his throne on the hardwood, suddenly, Jackson’s view has scurried away from sustainable long-term success to being victorious in the near.
In the end, he can’t be faulted for the ultimate desire to win. As head of New York’s front-office, it’s his occupation.
Much like Pat Riley has done the past two decades in Miami, Phil Jackson, as President of the Knicks, has a chance to separate himself even higher above legends of NBA-past.
A word of advice for the Zen Master: Don’t squander this beautiful opportunity. Your legacy depends on it.