A friend emailed me to ask: “What do you think of the cerebral, philosophical Mr. Jackson joining the Knicks?” I was going to post on this burning subject anyway, so here’s my answer to him.
Well, I think the cerebral, philosophical Mr. Jackson is kind of a jerk. I never liked the guy. But players do, and that’s what’s important: guys might want to come to NY, or stay here (Tim Hardaway comes to mind) if they think it gives them a chance to play for Jackson. Of course, it doesn’t really, unless he coaches, but I don’t think he will. Coaching is just too physically hard for him anymore — the travel, etc. But that cerebral stuff might excite players anyway, thinking Jackson has a plan for the team. Which he might have. Certainly that’s how the players were talking at the game they played his first day on the job. Though if Woodson were deliberately trying to show what an ineffectual coach he was, he couldn’t have done better than that fourth quarter. But they pulled it out, so Jackson was happy and so was everyone else. (Me too.) The real issue is, will he be able to stand up to that d-bag, James Dolan? As long as Dolan owns the Knicks and insists on running the show, the team will be a train wreck. Dolan needs to sit down and shut up, let the GM and the coaches decide whom to keep, when to trade, etc. (A friend of mine calls Dolan “the George W. Bush of basketball: he only got the job because of who his father was and doesn’t have even his father’s dubious qualifications for it.”) Not that the Knicks have much deciding to do: they’re over the salary cap and they won’t have a decent draft pick for like a decade. Still. It’s Jackson’s team to fix and Dolan’s to ruin. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top. Pessimistically, I have to say my money’s on Dolan, because his swollen ego is bigger. But on the other hand, I tell myself, Jackson knew all about Dolan when he took the job. He wouldn’t have come here if he didn’t think he could win out, and that kind of a challenge — beating down James Dolan, as much as making the Knicks a winning ball club — is right up his alley. So all in all, I think it’s a good thing. In the context of: having watched the Knicks all season, what is there that could be a bad thing?