CultureFriday 03.18.22

Phil Jackson's Disastrous Knicks Run

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Time for “This Week In Sports History,” where we break down an event from the past through the lens of 2022.

Eight years ago this week, Hall of Fame former coach Phil Jackson signed a five-year, $60 million deal to join the New York Knicks as president. Jackson, who has won more titles than any other head coach, accepted the job to much fanfare. But it didn’t take long for him to spoil the goodwill that had come his way.

Jackson ran the team for three seasons, as the Knicks stumbled to a combined record of 80-166. They never came close to making the playoffs, despite Jackson’s near-promise, in his first press conference as president, that they would. Jackson ended up hiring incompetent head coaches; his free agent signings were uniformly poor, if not outright disasters; and he alienated his two best players, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

He also proved unwilling to adapt to the modern game. Jackson forced the Knicks into an antiquated triangle offense that worked in the ‘90s but wasn’t so useful one generation later. To top it all off, he called LeBron James’ close business associates a “posse,” drawing accusations of racism.

When Phil Jackson started with the Knicks, he was believed to be one of the brightest basketball minds in the game. LZ and Will judge whether anyone in the history of the NBA has done more to destroy their professional reputation.

The Long Game