Now that was a Woj bomb for the ages.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out that Knicks owner James Dolan was weighing whether or not to fire Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson. Knicks fans on Twitter said good riddance when the tweet came out.
Jackson was fired Wednesday morning by the Knicks after an uninspiring 80-166 record that featured players coming and going and four coaches under his watch. He was also fired for creating a bad work environment by alienating Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.
Say this about the Zen Master. His accomplishment was providing cover for Dolan when it came to criticism, and he was able to steal $12 million a year while running the Knicks to the ground. He even will be paid the remaining of his contract to go away.
Thinking about it, one can’t help but wonder if Jackson wanted the Knicks job just to get paid and be relevant rather than do the work of an executive. He certainly didn’t put any effort into his job. For instance, he had no interest in creating a great working relationship with Anthony as he constantly tore his best player down rather than coaching him up. This guy thought about trading Porzingis after his player had the gall to feel the Knicks are dysfunctional.
This is an executive that never got into the times. Instead of having his team play small ball or speed ball, he wanted his team to play the triangle offense despite not having the players to play it. His job was to get the most out of his players and put them in a position to succeed, not force them to play an antiquated offense.
There was no accountability from Jackson for the job he has done. Not once did he apologize or admit he hasn’t gotten it done. It was always Anthony’s fault for the Knicks’ ills. He also was not afraid to blame Derek Fisher and Jeff Hornacek if his team underperformed. He constantly complained about his players to Charley Rosen. What he never mentioned was that it was he who created this roster with zero regard to chemistry or ability to play defense.
This was his roster. This was his players. The buck should stop with Jackson. It’s the least he could do, but he never did.
His tenure and his behavior were so bad that Knicks fans sided with Anthony in the end over him when Jackson and Anthony had a falling out. Remember Knicks fans grew tired of their star during the course of the season, and they still want him out.
It’s easy to wonder how much interest Jackson truly had in building the Knicks. This is a person who enjoyed taking shots at them and the Knicks fans during the Bulls’ playoff series with the Knicks in the 90s. It was hard to figure he would go back to embrace the role of a protagonist after being an antagonist for so long.
Nothing worked out from the beginning for the Zen Master. He traded away productive veterans from the 2012-2013 Knicks team such as J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler and received nothing in return. His free agent moves such as Joakim Noah, Derrick Williams, Arron Afflalo, Kyle O’Quinn (sign-and-trade) and Robin Lopez were busts. Outside of Porzingis, his draft picks were awful.
That was why Jackson never received the benefit of the doubt by the fans. That was why he was ridiculed by the local media in town. That was why Dolan finally had enough.
It was never going to work out after Jackson alienated Anthony and Porzingis. It’s hard to rebuild trust when he created a toxic relationship with his two stars.
Maybe Jackson stays if he was willing to talk to Porzingis about what has gone wrong. He never did. Instead, he tore into his player for skipping his exit meeting. Yes, the second-year Knicks player was wrong for skipping his exit meeting, but this is where Jackson has to be proactive in clearing the air with his best player. Not one will be the same. This isn’t a role player, so he has to at least ask what was on his star’s mind before reacting.
Jackson was so stubborn in his own ways. He had to be the boss and everyone had to follow suit. The triangle offense had to be run and the players have to play it whether they like it or not. He never had any interest in communicating with his players because he felt he didn’t have to.
Maybe if he was winning and making good moves, he can get away with it. But he never did any of those things. It’s remarkable he had the gall to be so smug and so out-of-touch until the end.
Jackson never understood New York. He never wanted to work with the players. He had zero interest in the Knicks’ past. It was all about him and wanting how much money he could take from the Knicks organization.
Knicks fans did not like Jackson, but they wanted to see him succeed because they wanted what was best for the Knicks. In fact, he had a hero welcome when the Knicks hired him.
That was as good as it got for him. It went downhill after that.
There’s no need to feel for Jackson. His legacy will still be intact by winning 11 championships as coach of the Bulls and Lakers. He will retire as a rich man. That’s why he will not be losing sleep at all. Truth be told, he probably is happy that he was fired.
Jackson did not succeed as Knicks executive, but one thing he did was take Dolan’s money and cash it to the bitter end.
Jesse James would have been proud of what Jackson did.