Thursday, June 29, 2017

The legacy of Phil Jackson

It was a really stupid question. Some talking head wondered aloud whether the almighty "legacy" of Phil Jackson might take a hit after his days of being in charge of the New York Knicks.

Well, OF COURSE it will. Even in today's politically correct crazy world, you can't botch things that bad, for that long, and expect to come away unscathed. Particularly if you happen to be a male Caucasian. Color yourself officially hit.

True, the former Zen Master had a ton of success coaching both the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers, winning a whopping 11 NBA titles along the way.

But those teams were loaded with talent. Jordan, Pippen, and that crew in Chitown, and Shaq, Kobe, and that bunch in LA-LA land. Wind em up and turn em loose. No big mystery about it. They were just better than everybody else at the time.

Jackson was fond of tossing out such phrases as the "triangle offense". Much like George H. W. Bush and his "thousands points of light", nobody knew what the hell they were talking about -- likely including them. It just sounded good at the time. Sadly, and likely cluelessly, the public ate it up.

Then off Phil went to the Big Apple. His first gig as the executive in charge of basketball operations. What could go wrong? Turned out -- plenty -- and it all did.

The Knicks were horrible during his three years at the helm. This is what happens when a team keeps botching the draft, is dumb enough to give a one-dimensional player like Carmelo Anthony an absurd long-term contract (with a no-trade clause), and has an owner that thinks things are cruising along just fine.

Oh yeah, James Dolan is absolutely complicit in the train wreck the Knicks have been in recent times. First he thought former Piston and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas would be their savior. So he threw a bazillion dollars at Zeke to fix things.

This is the same Isiah Thomas that once bought the Continental Basketball Association (then the minor-leagues of the NBA) and ran it into bankruptcy. Poof, it was gone. The same guy that botched things so bad in Toronto. And at every minor college stop (his last resort) later on. Good player? Sure. Competent executive? The man was a disaster waiting to happen, and it always did.

Incredibly, just one short year ago, Jackson and Dolan agreed to pick up a two year extension on the former's contract. Chalk up another 10 million plus for someone who had already proven himself a total bust in his job.

Then Dolan turns around and decides he's changed his mind. Phil has to go. Well, duh. Thing is, JD is still on the hook for those guaranteed two years of a contract. Duh indeed.

So yeah, Phil may have played for the Knicks back in the 70s, even on a couple championship teams. And gone on to coach several more in Chicago and Los Angeles.

But the Peter Principle finally caught up with him when he tried his hand in the proverbial front office.

Thou art a klutz, a doofus, and haven't the faintest idea how to proceed, much less put a decent team together.

But that's just kind of the way it works. For those that want to keep score --- consider the following.....

Phil Jackson as a player? Pretty good.

Head coach during the Bulls' glory years? Check.

Ditto for his time in LA.

Lots of banners and rings to be proud of.

Alas, in the end, all those atta-boys would seem to be canceled out by the one giant oh sh*t he "dumped" in New York as the guy running the show.

A worthy Hall of Famer himself? Sure.

But it should come with an asterisk on his plaque......

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