Isiah Thomas knows what it’s like to fail running the New York Knicks. He’ll choose to remember Phil Jackson for his successes as a coach.
Isiah Thomas had a tumultuous run as head of the New York Knicks from December of 2003 to April of 2008. Phil Jackson’s controversial reign brought comparisons to the Hall of Fame point guard’s time in charge.
Thomas’ legacy is tainted with the memory of his embarrassing tenure in New York. It makes sense that he’d want to remember Jackson for his time as a great head coach.
“There’ve been a lot of us who have come through New York that want to do well,’’ Thomas said in Las Vegas for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor bout and appearing on The MMA Hour radio show with Ariel Helwani. “For whatever reason we didn’t do well. I look at Phil before he got to New York – how he was respected in the game. And that’s the Phil Jackson I choose to remember. That’s on the real.”
Thomas can sympathize with Jackson. When Donnie Walsh took his job, he was demoted and banned from having any contact with the team. Walsh was afraid Thomas would try and undermine new head coach Mike D’Antoni.
It was just as – if not more – embarrassing than Jackson’s public dismissal. At least Thomas’ firing was pre-Twitter.
Thomas is now president of the Liberty and says he only talks to James Dolan about his new job. He won’t cross that line of authority by talking to his boss about the Knicks. When speaking on a return to the NBA as an executive Thomas leaves the door open saying, “never say never.”
Elite Sports NY’s Charles Hart wrote about the lack of national TV games for the Knicks in the upcoming season, and what it means for their place in the NBA.