Thursday, March 13, 2014

Phil Jackson Cashes A Check, Knick Fan Gets Duped

Meet Your New Boss/Albatross
So the news on the Intertubes tonight is that the legendary coach, author, old guy and opportunist Phil Jackson is taking a position with the woebegone New York Knicks. Which seems to be inspiring that collection of slugs to surge toward the 8th slot and certain first-round beatdown against the Pacers or Heat. Anyhoo... what that role might be is not yet clear, and as the Zen Master has spent the better part of a week dithering about this, it's not as if he's going to just be the GM. It's also not as if any other franchise is looking to pay him for very little, or that Manhattan is a bad place to be when you are old and haz cash.

Now, please note what Jackson isn't go to do: coach. He's not going to junk Mike Woodson's soul-crushing iso offense, or get everyone to read tomes that turn them into Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'Neal. He's also not going to get them out from under the terrible Amar'e Stoudamire contract, make Tyson Chandler sturdy and healthy, JR Smith sane, or Raymond Felton less fat and abhorrent. He can't turn back time and get Jeremy Lin back, or Steve Novak, or make Andrea Bargnani disappear. And the reason why is he's (a) not really the GM, (b) not going to take over the reins from Dolan, and (c) not going to find a single NBA trading partner that will want to take on these toxic "assets." But he will make James Dolan feel better about himself, and maybe sell a few thousand more tickets to a fan base that makes Charlie Brown's place kicking efforts look cynical.

As a Sixers Fan, what I really like about the move is how hard Knick Fan will fall for it, and how little it will change anything for them. Dolan still owns the team, and Dolan is still one of the Association's greatest losers. The team is on the league's most concrete treadmill of mediocrity, in a media market that prevents any plan that doesn't involve deluding the fan base into filling the arena for this year, not next. Oh, and beating the Nets in the all-important contest of team whose season ends last in the metro NYC area.

Don't believe me? Their star and problem child, Carmelo Anthony, is on record as saying that Jackson coming on board doesn't have any impact on his future free agent plans, and the current crop of NBA superstar doesn't care about what Kobe's Old Coach is doing now, or how nice it is to live in the media capital of the universe. They care about avoiding state tax, being warm during the long winter months, and playing with teammates that make them much better. In short, they want to be like LeBron James. Or Dwight Howard, seeing how he's looking quite content to be in Houston these days. (Note also that Texas and Florida have no state income tax and tolerable winter weather.)

Knick Fan, of course, is blind to the idea that loving to play at the Garden doesn't mean you love to play for the Knicks, or Dolan; hence, why his team is such a relentless parade of meh. He also seems to think that Dolan actually wants to win more than be the boss, as if he didn't run off Donnie Walsh for competence, or spent the better part of the last ten years having the legendary atrocity that is Isiah Thomas whispering in his ear. If they keep Anthony, they will continue to have their team defined by a gunner who doesn't try on defense and has made it out of the first round once in his career. Let him walk, and your talent level goes to the depths of the league with very little in the way of resources coming back to you, and your chance at those crucial first round and done playoff games go away.

I get why Jackson would say yes to this. It's cash, and taking a front office role won't do anything to tarnish his coaching legacy. If he somehow is there when the Knicks stumble into talent, good fortune or some happy accident, it's just one more accolade into a life that's never lacked for them, and no one is going to blame him when the whole thing goes sidewise, otherwise known as the only Knick direction for much of the century. But I don't get why anyone else thinks he's going to matter. There is nothing about Jackson's legacy says that he'd be good at the grinding small business that is front office work. His best teams were not propelled by second round picks and street meat; they were powered by some of the generation's best and most notable talent, and his ability to get the most out of said talent. It's not as if he has any experience in dealing with agents, remarkable patience with belligerent media, or ownership that cares more about filling the room than filling the trophy cabinet.

So welcome to the Big Apple, Philip. See the museums. Look up some old friends. Try some theater and new restaurants. Work up a bubble to get some distance from the media. Get the money up front. And rest easy in the fact that your job is impossible, and that no one is going to hold it against you when you fail.


Snd_dsgnr said...

Maybe this is just me, but I would much rather put up with winter in New York than summer in Houston. Ugh.

+1 on soul crushing iso offense by the way. I *hate* watching the Knicks. They still run the offense that made me stop watching the NBA back in the 00's.

DMtShooter said...

Yes, but NBA players don't have to spend their summers in the town of their teams.

Between the Knicks, Nets and Sixers, I get to see a metric ton of terrible to watch pro hoop. It's as if the NBA is trying to enforce League Pass for all.

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