Wordy title, I know. And I know I said that I'd write about more important shit, but sometimes sports just get to me. I can't help my addiction. Anyways.
Phil Jackson needs to stop.
When Jackson, the legend and Zen Master himself, showed up in New York to right the ship, I was hopeful. Here, after years of churning the hamster wheel of mediocrity and misery, was an opportunity for a once legendary franchise to return somewhat to their previous state of opulence. And when he hired Derrick Fisher, his old floor general from his Laker days, I was even more excited. And then, when the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis, aka the Latvian Gangbanger aka Porzingod, everyone got a little more excited.
And now we're here.
In the almost three years since the Knicks signed Jackson to be their head of everything, things have not gone as planned. Instead of installing a modern pace and space offense, Jackson insisted that his coaches run a "modernized" version of the triangle offense (it's not modernized, also a bitch to run, and requires Melo to pass more often than is healthy for TV viewers). Jackson has drafted surprisingly well over this period of time, with the pick and development of Kristaps Porzingis obviously being his crown jewel, but then stunted Porzingis' development by signing Joakim Noah to play center( and also ruining the Knicks financially). However, my biggest complaint about Jackson's time in NY is his treatment of Carmelo Anthony.
If you don't believe that Melo is a singular talent, then you can stop reading this article right now. Melo is a gifted scorer, combining lights-out shooting with a strength that can beat up most any player in the post. On nights when Melo is locked in, you might as well just throw 32 points up on the scoreboard for him, because it is happening. Melo though, for all of his gifts, can't seem to win. Whether it has been the roster around him or just his impact on the game (most likely both), he can't seem to get over the hump. Melo is most likely going to join Karl Malone as some of the greatest players to not have a ring. But that doesn't excuse the treatment from Phil Jackson.
Jackson has been on record saying that Melo holds the ball to much for the team to run the triangle effectively. Okay, fair. He has also made it clear on occasion that it is hard for him to communicate with Melo and it's become clear for the past month or so that Jackson is trying his damnedest to move on from Melo. Also, fair. If you can't connect with a player, no matter how great they are, you need to explore other options. But this week has been the last straw.
Bleacher Report's Michael Ding wrote a profile on Melo that basically questioned his desire to win in NY. Instead of letting the article speak for itself, Phil Jackson decided to take after our illustrious president (come on, you thought I'd go a week without mentioning him?) and tweet some ignorant shit. The tweet more or less reads that "Ding is right and this is what happened with Michael Graham". I had to look up Michael Graham, but he was a player that Jackson coached in the Continental Basketball Association way back when. Apparently Jackson could never reach Graham. That's an okay thing for you to say in a memoir you write 20 years from now. It's not okay to say about a player on your team, especially if you're trying to trade him.
Imagine if you were going to leave your job for another opportunity, but your boss told everyone in town that you don't work hard. Now imagine that, in order to hire you, your new employer would have to give your boss one of their employees. Think that trade will happen? Here's the problem I have with all of this. If you wanted to get rid of Melo, that's not the way to do it. If you want to say that shit, wait until after you move him, not until you've sunk his trade value somewhere around the city of Atlantis. If anything, Phil, you almost guaranteed that Melo will remain a Knick and that you'll have to keep footing the bill on his onerous contract, the same contract in which you granted him and no-trade clause, which is why we are in this mess in the first place.
I understand that basketball is a complicated business, but sometimes it really shouldn't be. If Phil Jackson had took the time to treat Melo with the respect he deserves, if he had taken the time to allow his coaches to work their own systems, if he hadn't so thoroughly handicapped this team, both talent-wise and financially, we wouldn't be in this mess and I'd still respect Phil Jackson.
Instead, the Zen Master is out here looking like the Drunken Master. And I don't mean that as a compliment.