When it comes to Phil Jackson‘s New York Knicks, plenty of talent and skill is abound. The issue remains concerned with character.

“Stuff happens.”

These were the two words that hit home, most depressingly, when New York Knicks starting point guard Derrick Rose spoke to the media on Tuesday. Two words, explaining very little, was the ultimate rationalization for why the 2010-11 NBA MVP skipped town and forced his squad to play without him on Monday night.

Worse yet, the Knickerbockers had no idea where their point man was. It was a total missing in action mystery bonanza.

It was revealed that D-Rose took to his hometown of Chicago, dealing with a family situation concerning his mother. Quite honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered if Rose walked in with sudden superpowers equipped to take out the Monstars singlehandedly.

No professional, no less one seeking a multi-billion dollar deal this summer, should ever allow his employer to go 24 hours without status awareness. Yet Rose did just that in the hours leading up to the Knicks 110-96 blowout loss to Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.

Who does this? It’s a sole act that, quite honestly, is unforgivable. How will any of his teammates have confidence in the man or be able to look at him in the eyes after something like this?

It’s simply unheard of. This treatment by D-Rose comes off as even more bizzare considering how phenomenally the Knicks organization handled its new point guard during his sensitve times heading into the season, the ugly rape case that floated over his head like a dark cloud.

Digging deeper, the sad story peels back uglier layers. When concerning the organization itself, the story has very little to do with Rose.

Phil Jackson is the man responsible.

When Rose was acquired, the party streamers were aplenty thanks to the former MVP’s words for New York hyping up the city.

The hype and positive commentary made for great fodder. Excitement — with a real point guard in tow and Kristaps Porzingis entering his second season — was real. Understanding 32-year-old Carmelo Anthony was entering another season that gets him closer to the end of a career, the 2016-17 NBA season for the Knicks was supposed to be one filled with a playoff atmosphere at The Garden. 

The truth is: even if the Knickerbockers do somehow find their way into the playoffs (after this 17-21 start showcasing horrid defense), Jax’s offseason plan has failed miserably.

Character counts.

Skill and talent were certainly brought to the Big Apple. Rose’s talent would excite anybody who watched even two-game from Jose Calderon a season ago. Derek Fisher‘s version of the Knicks was attempting to play basketball with an ancient relic at the point guard spot. He couldn’t move offensively or defensively in a new, very quick NBA.

But talent and skill alone doesn’t win basketball games.

Nobody is calling Derrick Rose a bad guy — not be a long stretch. By all accounts, he’s a good kid. The Chicago native who came so close to winning a National Championship with John Calipari, the same kid who admitted to being a junk food addict, seems like somebody who has his head screwed on straight. Even when the cards were down and health remained top priority, Rose remained the family and good samaritan type dude.

Again, though, this doesn’t mean he’s the right player to win a championship with.

Rose made it perfectly clear how he felt about basketball as a whole when he told the entire world he would rather sit out games than risk a healthy life post-NBA career, via the Chicago Sun Times.

“I feel I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out, it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to.

“I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart.’’

The words were a shock to many considering the old-school feel Rose displayed during his young career. He played like a gritty throwback and even acted as the lone wolf when proclaiming to the world that he didn’t want LeBron James during the Summer of 2010. He’d rather step on the throat of a superstar than welcome to the help. That’s a refreshing sentiment in this world of Kevin Durants and 2010 LBJs who’d rather take their talents to South Beach.

Sadly, that Rose is gone, and it’s Phil’s fault for bringing this new, stranger version to New York. It’s also Jax’s fault that Joakim Noah is on the hook for another three years at this old, broken down age of 31. 

Admittedly, very few options present itself when looking to improve a team’s overall talent from year-to-year. When looking for a point guard, Jackson looked to strike gold with Chicago swap for Rose.

This is the problem, though: For the second straight offseason, Phil Jackson took the aggressive approach in hopes to fuel Carmelo Anthony‘s championship goals. This strategy forces an organization to consider limited options.

At this current time and place, it’s over. Rose’s AWOL episode firmly killed this Knicks season, this Knicks idea of a proud skillful transformation. When one of the leaders disappears and doesn’t send a simple text about why, not only does everything change on the court, but it does behind the scenes as well.

The locker room will transform. Relationships can only head downhill from here.

When it’s all said and done and the final story of these Knicks in 2016-17 is written — an unfortunate one, to say the least — Jax and his henchmen must realize one thing when he heads into the Summer of 2017.

He must realize that a true rebuild is necessary for his New York Knicks and that character does, indeed, count. It counts for a lot.

When Phil Jackson starts the true rebuild around Kristaps Porzingis, he must not only seek talent and athletic ability, he must acquire character and fundamental toughness.


Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com