Phil Jackson is immortal. Phil is Zeus. Phil is God-like. You think I’m it taking too far don’t you? Reality is, I think I might even be undermining his genius and basketball intellect. What befuddles me is that people legitimately think the Zen Master isn’t good for the league anymore – that his time is done. People are enthralled with the young gunners, like Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks. The NBA wanted to dip into the Fountain of Youth and expel themselves from the powerful aura and legacy of Phil Jackson. Foolish if you ask me.
First off, kudos to Spoelstra and Brooks because they exude the immense passion needed to succeed as coaches in this ultra-competitive league. They have the juice, point blank.
Now, I think Phil is ultimately the Jay-Z of the NBA as far as coaching is concerned. He’s the greatest to ever do it. His resume is impeccable: He has 11 championships, which include six with Chicago and five with the Lakers. He helped remold the definition of coaching. He didn’t need to be overly aggressive and flip chairs over a la Bobby Knight. He didn’t need to overwork his players in gruesome practices a la Pat Riley. His cool demeanor spoke volumes, which transitioned to the performances of the greats, including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. You would think his path is done after achieving everything he needed to. I don’t think he’s done. I think he has one more chapter that needs to be written.
Before I say this, here’s my disclaimer: I love Mike Woodson. He’s a great coach who excelled tremendously despite having numerous hindrances during his tenure last year as interim coach for New York. But to be frank, Mike isn’t Phil. Nobody is Phil. For people who are Knick fans, I’m going to be brutally honest. If you do not get Jackson and drag him from his fishing boat in Montana, I guarantee you are not seeing a championship.
Now envision this: If you’re David Stern, considering he loves marquee matchups and is always seeking innumerable ways to raise revenue, just ponder at the thought of Phil returning to New York and taking on the daunting task of returning the city of Gotham back to the promise land with the enigma that is Carmelo Anthony. Imagine revitalizing a broken-down Amar’e Stoudemire and having him and ‘Melo obliterating their competition. You have a passionate leader in Tyson Chandler who will already anchor the defense. You have a formidable team that needs guidance.
Now imagine New York gets to the Eastern Conference Finals to face Miami. The storylines are now made. ‘Melo vs. LeBron. The Legend of Jackson against the newest kid on the block in Spoelstra. The rivalry of Miami vs. New York would be maximized.
Then, imagine Phil taking New York back to its first NBA Finals since 1999 and going against his former love and now ex-wife in the form of the Los Angeles Lakers. One man could change the dynamics of the league because of the endless storylines that would be created. ‘Melo vs. Kobe, Phil back in L.A. to get his 12th ring, and possibly bringing New York basketball back to the forefront. Ratings will shoot up entirely. ESPN will eat this up. “First Take” will debate about this for hours. Like Kanye said, “No one man should have all that power” and yet in the case of Phil, he’s the one man who can change the landscape of the league with one simple move — which is to come back.
— Carl Lamarre
Should Phil Jackson come back if he has the chance?
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