Phil Jackson became an angry old guy in a young man’s game | Les Carpenter


By the end of his reign in New York, the Knicks president was nothing like the free thinker who opened an era of new-age coaching

Despite the misguided perceptions of many sports fans, running an NBA team is actually a grinder’s pursuit. The men charged with picking players and managing rosters must spend the time scouting, scheming and building. Phil Jackson, who was let go Wednesday as New York Knicks president, seemed to believe his own cult of personality was enough to make the league’s most dysfunctional franchise whole again. 

The message Jackson lost as he took a rich man’s millions and wasted three years of the franchise is that his entire name was built on the managing the brilliance of others. His 11 NBA titles were less about his devotion to zen and more  about the brilliance of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The foundations of those championships were built by Jerry Krause in Chicago and Jerry West in Los Angeles. Even his beloved triangle offense was perfected by an old college coach named Tex Winter, who brought it to Jackson when he took over Jordan’s Bulls.

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