Harris DeckerDuring the TKB Podcast, Moke Hamilton and I discussed Phil Jackson at length. One of the debates was whether or not his lack of front office experience scares Knicks fans. The answer we both came up with is a definitive no. Just because you’ve never done something, it does not mean that you can’t.
If there’s one thing I know Phil Jackson can do, it’s win. He’s done it his entire career. As a player, as a coach, and soon, as a member of a front office. Jackson understands winning on a level that most don’t. He doesn’t care about talent, egos or hype. He cares about how much you can contribute to his plan.
During the aforementioned podcast, we spoke with Eric Pincus of the LA Times. I asked him about the relationship between Jackson and his former superstars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. My question centered around what we can predict for Jackson’s relationship with Carmelo Anthony.
Pincus discussed at great length how Jackson pitted Bryant and O’Neal against each other. Bryant was exuberant, feisty and had a will to win. Shaq was quieter than Kobe, but still wanted big things for the Lakers. Jackson new that with two superstars, he had to take sides. He sided with Shaq and in doing so, drove Bryant to become one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history.
Jackson understood that Shaq needed to be coddled, while Bryant needed to be pushed. The question becomes, which does Anthony need?
“He gets the big stars to change and embrace the team concept” Pincus said during the interview.
That’s important for a number of reasons, especially because of the decision that will face Carmelo and the Knicks this offseason. Jackson will have a few months in New York to figure out if Anthony can fit into his system, the way Bryant and Shaq did as they developed. If Anthony is not on board, then he will not be a Knick in 2014-15.
On Monday, Anthony had this to say about Jackson: “As long as it’s gonna put me in a position to win, I’m willing to do whatever. I’m not sold or stuck on my play.” That’s a very good sign for Knicks fans who hope Anthony sticks around.
On the eve of Jackson being introduced as the new Knicks’ president, there are more questions than answers.
How will Jackson evaluate the Knicks over their final few games? How will he treat rookies like Tim Hardaway Jr., and Jeremy Tyler and, most importantly, how will his presence impact Anthony’s future with the Knicks? In less than 24 hours, we will start to get some of these answers.