Ex-players such as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal commenting on Phil Jackson‘s tenure with the Knicks provides only biased and irrelevant takes.
Phil Jackson the head coach is one of the most successful figures in NBA history. By winning 11 NBA titles, Jackson has helped cement himself in as the most successful coach the NBA has ever seen.
However, Jackson the president is nowhere near as potent a force. Missing the playoffs in all three years as president of basketball operations with the New York Knicks, Jackson has produced a losing product year in and year out. Despite his failures though, former players, who he coached in the past, such as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, still come to Jackson’s defense.
Don’t be fooled. These takes come from a completely biased and irrelevant perspective.
Out of the names who have come to Jackson’s defense over the past few months, Bryant has been the most recent one to speak out.
Bryant, who spent his entire career with the Lakers, won five rings under Jackson in his hay-day. Despite his knowledge of the way he operates, Bryant’s take on the current state of Jackson the president and the Knicks comes from a biased and irrelevant perspective.
After being asked a question as to whether Jackson and Carmelo Anthony‘s relationship is strained, Bryant responded:
“Not from what I’ve been through with Phil”.
Bryant then compared their struggles to ones suffered by Michael Jordan and Jackson.
“Michael had his rough times with him as well. The history is you get through rough times after you win a good amount of championships. We certainly had our rocky times, but we still stuck to it, we figured out our way through it and came out better because of it. I think the most important thing is sticking to it, being patient. Sometimes things work out. Sometimes they don’t.”
Are these beliefs stated by Bryant true? They very well may be, but the biggest issue that Bryant fails to realize is that Jackson isn’t coaching the Knicks.
Jackson also doesn’t have a Michael Jordan-like star on his roster, which makes Bryant’s comparison rather odd. While Carmelo Anthony is a force on the offensive end, he’s by no means on Jordan’s level.
“From my experience, from what I had with Phil — again it’s a different situation, he was coaching the team — but you can get through rocky times,’’ said Bryant.
The dilemmas that were dealt on the 90s Bulls and the Bryant lead Lakers are no comparisons to the ones the Knicks are currently enduring under Jackson at the helm. This Bulls and Lakers had hall of fame talent on their rosters such as Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Bryant, O’Neal and even Pau Gasol. Outside of Anthony, the Knicks have possessed little to no star power, showing how these statements made by Bryant have little to no relevance, in regards to the state of the Knicks.
The former Lakers center O’Neal fails to realize that the issues that he endured with Jackson are completely different to the ones the 2017 Knicks are dealing with as well. His views, much like the ones possessed by Bryant come from a biased view, especially when it comes to the triangle offense.
In regards to the Knicks’ running of the triangle, O’Neal expressed his thoughts, as to why the players, and not Jackson are to blame for their offensive woes.
“I have three championships because of the triangle,’’ O’Neal said. “You always hear people say, of course the triangle works with Mike [Michael Jordan], Scottie [Pippen], Shaq and Kobe [Bryant], which is true. But if you look at all our games, it was the others who propelled us to the next level.”
O’Neal fails to acknowledge the fact that the Knicks roster is not identically assembled like his Lakers’ teams were. It’s also ludicrous on his part to credit role players for their ability to essentiality win championships. It’s no secret that he and Bryant were the key ingredients to their success. O’Neal though is wrong more so in his blasting of the Knicks roster, rather than his praising of players on his team in the past.
“It works,’’ O’Neal said. “When you’re a player, you’re used to doing something one way, and you bring in a system, a lot of guys don’t like to give up their habits. But the triangle, the ball can’t stop. It can’t stop.”
Without a doubt, O’Neal is throwing shade at players such as Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony for being ball dominant players. However, while his views on the system are in a way accurate, they’re irrelevant from the point that the triangle isn’t a form of spacing that can be run in the NBA anymore.
If they were running the triangle ten years ago, then O’Neal and Bryant’s take on the Knicks’ running of the system may have some relevance to them. However, in this case, they don’t. The NBA has become a point guard driven league, in which it’s becoming increasingly rare to see teams lean on half court sets.
The glaring reality with whatever stance one takes on O’Neal and Bryant’s takes, though, is that the two will never go against Jackson.
Both were successful under Jackson as head coach, and winning obviously speaks volumes, but can also cloud someone’s take on a certain matter. In this case, that matter is Jackson’s dictator-like reign as president of the Knicks.
Jackson the coach was an extraordinary basketball mind. Jackson the president though isn’t. His reign with the Knicks has been a disaster, as he’s been too stubborn in every way possible, ranging from hiring a select coaching staff, to forcing the triangle offense on the Knicks as a whole. In fact, Jackson doing so has resulted in the Knicks’ turning on him. If that isn’t a sign to O’Neal and Bryant that he’s been unsuccessful as president, then nothing will be.
At the end of the day, both O’Neal and Bryant’s comments on the state of the Knicks, Jackson in particular, come from a biased point of view. They also ignore the fact that the triangle offense doesn’t work with the roster the Knicks have assembled, essentially making their takes irrelevant.