Phil Jackson still can’t help himself. Not after all the losses in New York – historical failure at that – can the President of the Knicks ever show a humble side.
Nope, Phil will always be Mr. 11 rings first and foremost. So when he sits down to conduct a rare interview he has no trouble insulting LeBron James, LeBron’s pals, airing the dirty laundry of the Miami Heat and tweaking the Spurs, Gregg Popovich, Tom Thibodeau and even Mike Conley Jr.’s contract.
Phil has always been a master at verbally picking apart the competition. And it can be somewhat amusing. But it’s one thing to do it when you’re winning titles as a Hall of Fame head coach and quite another thing when you’re taking it on the chin year after year as a novice front office guy.
Phil should take a long look at his incredibly disappointing tenure in New York with the same microscope. Instead, he focuses on the rest of the league that has been two steps ahead of him from the moment Garden Chairman James Dolan made Jackson the NBA’s highest paid team executive.
Before the Knicks defeated the Dallas Mavericks 93-77 at Madison Square Garden on Monday there was fallout from Jackson’s Q&A with ESPN veteran NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan. Maverick Carter, LeBron’s childhood friend and long-time manager, apparently did not appreciate Jackson referring to LeBron’s friends as his “posse.” Carter responded via social media, writing: “All the hard work, effort and achievement and @PhilJackson11 still calls us a “posse” every step you take they remind you, you ghetto.”
In his hippie days, Phil was socially conscious and I have to believe he regrets using the word “posse” in the racially charged climate we’re now living in. He should have chosen his words carefully. Better yet, why even offer an opinion on the behind the scenes break-up of LeBron, the Heat and Pat Riley.
Joakim Noah has been an early failure for Jackson after giving him a lucrative, four-year, $72 million deal.
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Rest assured, Riley is far too busy and far too classy to give a “hot take” on why Jackson handed Joakim Noah a four-year, $72 million contract. Or why Jackson picked a public fight with Carmelo Anthony three years ago during free agency that led to Melo hitting Phil with a hammer; a no-trade clause.
Phil didn’t address that little doozy with ESPN. Instead, he took a dig at an old rival, Riley, by stating that when LeBron left Miami “It had to hurt when they lost LeBron. That was definitely a slap in the face.” Jackson later says, “I do know LeBron likes special treatment. He needs things his way.” Mind you, Jackson is the same guy that coached Michael “Special Treatment” Jordan. As for Jackson, he has full-time driver, reportedly gets a $30,000 a month in housing allowance and elected not to attend last June’s NBA Scouting Combine in Chicago.
I guess the moral of the story is that Phil knows special treatment when he sees it.
Jackson did refer to LeBron as a Rolls Royce while adding “we don’t have the Rolls-Royce.” Sorry Melo. He also called Conley’s contract “insane” and took a subtle swipe at Thibodeau by noting that former Bulls forward Luol Deng may have slowed down because “the excess playing time might not have been necessary.”
Translation: Thibodeau runs his players into the ground.
Jackson dishes out the problems Pat Riley had with LeBron James and the Heat.
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Well, let’s break that down. There was a three-year period starting with the 2011-12 season when a 25-year-old Deng played 82 games and averaged 39 minutes per game. The next season, Deng played 54 games and averaged 39 minutes. The following year, Deng played 75 games at an average 39 minutes.
During Jordan’s final three season under Jackson in Chicago, he played all 82 games each year and averaged 38, 38 and 39 minutes per game respectively. In Jordan’s final year with the Bulls, he was 34 years old.
Phil, like most coaches, had this crazy notion about playing his best players the most minutes. You think Phil’s winning six titles in Chicago by having Jordan on a minutes restriction? Neither Phil nor Jordan would have agreed to that.
This is just Phil trying to justify his peculiar decision not to interview the top free agent coach on the market last summer. Coincidentally, the one former Thibodeau player whose body is feeling the consequences from playing big minutes may be Noah, a bruising, all-out big man. Noah sat the entire second half on Monday. And yet, Jackson signed him for a king’s ransom.
That’s on Phil’s resume, along with losing record and zero playoff appearances. Making things right in New York should be his sole focus.
Once that’s accomplished, then he can solve the problems of the other 29 teams.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News