The Knicks’ polarizing owner, James Dolan, has an idea of why the Zen Master’s last New York tenure was a bust.
The Phil Jackson experiment will go down as one of the greatest failures in New York Knicks history. Now, thanks to a rare interview from long-vilified owner James Dolan, there may be some perspective as to why.
In an interview with Ian O’Connor of ESPN, Dolan speculated Jackson was “doomed” by what he described as “yes men.”
“… I think it was much more about this triangle thing. It was much more about his philosophy, that he couldn’t get the group to buy into it. And I think he got yessed a lot. I think they’d be underneath their breath going, ‘This is not a great idea,’ and he got into conflict with some players over it. But I think he tried hard to get his system in. I just don’t think he ever got it in.”
Suddenly, it all makes sense. The Knicks went 80-166 in Jackson’s three full seasons with them. A lot of that can be traced to him trying to force the triangle offense onto the court despite the NBA as a whole shifting to a much different brand of basketball. It’s what led to Carmelo Anthony wanting out of New York, not to mention Jackson going through three different coaches.
And in terms of the alleged yes men, what were they supposed to do? Tell a man with twice as much championship bling as Thanos his ideas were terrible? Jackson probably doesn’t have that kind of power, but his yes men may have been smart not to risk it.
Thankfully, the Knicks appear to be getting back on track under new GM Scott Perry and first-year coach David Fizdale.
Phil Jackson, on the other hand, will have to stick to meditating up in Montana while remembering when his triangle offense was actually relevant.