The return of Phil Jackson to basketball hasn’t exactly been a triumphant story so far. Serving as president of the New York Knicks, Jackson has seen his team struggle to a horrid 5-36 record, before finally cobbling together some wins to sit at 10-39.
Many point to a poorly constructed roster as the main cause of New York’s problems, however, Jackson’s insistence on instituting the triangle offense is also to blame. The hope is that Jackson can one day help replicate the success of his days in Chicago and Los Angeles by pushing the triangle. But up until now, the results have been disastrous, and Jackson recently admitted it.
“Like nothing I’ve seen before,” he told the New York Times when asked about the team’s rough start. “So far, my experiment has fallen flat on its face.”
It wasn’t long ago that Jackson was enjoying retired life, living in L.A. with Jeanie Buss, part owner of the Lakers. And it didn’t look like he was coming back…that is until Knicks owner James Dolan lured him out of retirement with a 5-year, $60 million deal to become team president.
Not long after being hired, Jackson discussed that one of his immediate objectives was to get head coach Derek Fisher and the team on board with the triangle. The 11-time NBA champion coach also called his work with New York a “three- to five-year” reconstruction plan, aided by lots of cap space this summer and what looks to be a high first-round draft pick. Furthermore, Carmelo Anthony should be much healthier next season. But will all of this be enough with the triangle still in place? Here’s an excerpt from the NY Times article that explains Jackson’s thoughts:
But as to skepticism about whether he can make the triangle work in a league in which no one else plays it, Jackson said: “I’m not daunted by the number of people who have commented that this way of playing is arcane, that the game has moved on. The game has moved on.”
He also believes that the game, stylistically, moves in mysterious ways.
“I think it’s still debatable about how basketball is going to be played, what’s going to win out,” he said, leaving no doubt of his disdain for the point-guard-dominated concept of “screen-and-roll, break down, pass, and two or three players standing in spots, not participating in the offense.”
Jackson strongly believed that the Knicks would be a playoff team this season when he took over. And the talent was there, at least before he traded the team’s best defensive player, Tyson Chandler. Since that point, New York has continued to trade off solid veteran contributors like Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith in an effort to look towards the future.
Now sitting at 10-39 and eyeing a potential season shutdown for Anthony and his ailing knee, New York obviously isn’t going to the playoffs. But in the 2015-16 season, perhaps we’ll see a more-talented version of this Knicks team. And if this comes to fruition, Jackson will get another chance to prove that the triangle can still work in today’s game. But until then, he’ll just have to keep enduring the criticism that come along with heading one of the NBA’s worst teams.