NEW YORK – You know me; I’m too professional, polite and reverential of the coaching profession to speculate about interim Mike Woodson’s successor while he still retains the Knicks’ (favorite) title . . . at least as long as he’s undefeated.
Pressed by unfeeling editors, I had no choice but to voice an educated estimation whether Phil Jackson can be tempted to return to his NBA roots as the Knicks coach.
Off the record — because I don’t want Jackson to see my name attached to any of this, knowing once he sees I’m still writing, he’ll feel compelled to end his career the way it began, with me covering him — the possibility of him accepting the job is probably as fanciful-squared as I plan to lead you to believe.
Will Action Jackson politic for the position?
Not on Jim Buss’ life.
However, should interim owner James Dolan let it be known he would clear the decks and give Jackson full control, in writing, not the unauthentic autonomy verbally gifted Donnie Walsh, I think he might (the operative word) entertain the notion.
Keep in mind, Jackson, after leaving the Chicago Bulls following the 1997-98 championship season, turned down Red Holzman’s appeal to coach the Knicks. And I think we’re all aware Jackson would do anything within reason for his beloved mentor, post-playing career counselor and forever friend.
The awkwardly effective Jackson, who led the NBA in personal fouls (330) in 1975, was under Holzman’s two-titled influence for nine seasons. At the time of Red’s appeal, he was team president Dave Checketts’ treasured consultant.
Problem was, the Knicks weren’t especially special, and the clearly seduced Jackson already was in the process of sidling up to sirens Shaq and Kobe.
Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire don’t exactly remind me of those two, or, for that matter, arouse recollections of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
Hence, relocation from Phony-opolis to New York is stringently risk-reward. The guy already has as many coaching rings (11) as Red Auerbach, Red Holzman and Red Klotz combined.
Hell, even disgraced former (for 10 minutes) Notre Dame coach George O’Leary couldn’t embellish that resume.
Supposing Jackson came to Broadway and the Knicks won the Tony for the first time since he was there in very short pants (’73). Granted, it would be the tinsel on his tombstone, but is it really worth the peril of tarnishing his tiara?
It would be like the Pope logging onto Career Builders and looking for an occupation upgrade.
If Jackson and his isosceles triangle hit town and failed to deliver the goods, he would be just like the countless others that succeeded Holzman, including Red himself.
Phil’s no fool; the mastermind only acts like one in commercials. He had the rarefied roster in Albany (Patroons), Chicago and L.A. Here, all that’s rolled off the assembly line is a mismatched mélange that occasionally gets out of its own way.
Meanwhile, what has Jackson done in the NBA lately?
Last I looked, his Lakers got swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2010-11 Western Conference semifinals. Buying books for your players only takes you so far.
Personally, I’ve had my Phil of Jackson. Eleven titles may qualify him as a Zen Master in the Land of Botoxic Waste, but that kind of stuff is target practice in New York.
This isn’t the “Head & Shoulders,” Tom Meschery-like power poet, pot-smoking, motorcycle-riding, midnight cowboy, hippie hoople from the late 1960s and ’70s.
The modernized Jackson is suntanned-toed, sunset-ogling, Marina del Rey-residing, cradle-rocking, medically-refurbished (in need of another knee replacement), wine-tasting hush puppy soft.
On the Flip Wilson side, rather than wonder whether Jackson would condescend to coach the Knicks, the more relevant question is, what makes anyone think Dolan & his Dolts would remotely consider ceding control . . . as if the Knicks are legally, morally and spiritually obligated to romance Big Chief Triangle.
Even without inclusive authority, Jackson’s power trip is insufferable. He once shooed Lakers president Jerry West — the person responsible for his lavish appointment, who, nonetheless, believes Phil would be an ideal fit for the Knicks — from the locker room when he walked in during a team meeting.
Far be it from me to let the air out of your Jordans, but where’s the sum gain for either Jackson or the Knicks?
No matter how much Dolan charges and insults customers, Madison Square Garden remains sold out.
How would the presence of a deified coach guarantee any more revenue or any more rings (see Riley, Pat and Brown, Larry)?
I think we’ve covered everything, except for the unusual idea to bring in the unproven Jackson as simply the team president. Might the Basketball Whisperer harbor a dark desire to follow in Jerry Krause’s hoof prints?
At least one comrade thinks Jackson would enjoy a fresh challenge. Of course, a lack of success wouldn’t stain his unblemished coaching reputation.
The prospect of that happening doesn’t grab me, or, I suspect, anyone else. Knicks fans are exclusively interested in whether Jackson would coach. If he’s agreeable to sign on for both jobs, fine. If we’re talking just the top spot, I would file a blank template before boring you with that column.
I can tell you this with unshakable certainty: There is no way in this weird world Jackson will join the Knicks in any capacity if Isiah Thomas continues to have any say or sway in personnel decisions.
Seems to me, hiring Jim Boeheim makes more sense anyway. Nobody else has won a championship with Melo.
This report just in from column castigator Frank Drucker: John Calipari denies any interest in the Lehigh or Norfolk State jobs.
By the way, how come Hall of Fame nominee Rick Pitino isn’t getting any play from the media and Las Vegas line makers as a possible candidate for the Knicks job?
Seems a bit of petty people still hold a grudge against Louisville’s Blue Plate Special just because he conducted the Celtics chaos and phased out Auerbach?
Supposedly, Jerry Sloan wants to coach the Knicks. Apparently he hasn’t heard, all the dictators either have been deposed or are on the way out.
The Knicks now own the distinction of having three coaches resign — Pat Riley (by fax), Jeff Van Gundy (at the hot dog stand) and now Took-a-Hike Mike.
Of course, should D’Antoni rake in the remainder of his $6 million salary it means his resignation is a fake. And you know that’s the case. That way his lips are zipped for a few more months.
Peter Vecsey cover the NBA for the New York Post.