I sat down with sports guru Champ (@Champsportsguru), a frequent contributor to the Stephen A. Smith radio show and a guy whose basketball opinions are heavily respected by Smith.
He makes a compelling argument as to why Mark Jackson should be the next coach of the New York Knicks. I totally agree.
The James Dolan Dark Age
In February of 2017, Jason McIntyre of thebiglead.com wrote an article chronicling the 17-year downfall of the New York Knicks franchise since James Dolan took over the everyday ownership responsibilities.
James Dolan remains the Knicks’ major problem. @ChrisMannixYS column on @TheVertical. https://t.co/0OsTug8O6w
Longtime New York Knicks fans can break the franchises history down into four easily digestible eras:
- The Willis Reed/Walt Frazier era from 1969-1974, a glorious run that included titles in 1970 and 1973.
- The post-Reed era from 1975-1985, a down cycle with just one 50-win season, and no appearances in the conference finals.
- The Patrick Ewing era from 1986-2000, which was fun and joyous and full of 50-win seasons. There were two trips to the NBA Finals, and the Knicks were consistently a Top 7 team in the NBA.
- The wasteland that has been the post-Ewing era, from 2001-present, with one playoff series win (2013), and a litany of awful decisions by the worst owner in the NBA, James Dolan. From the GMs to the coaches to the players, the Knicks have gotten it wrong for nearly two decades…Nothing’s changed.
Phil Jackson’s firing is just another moment of false hope in the James Dolan Era https://t.co/WOlrDYIeVT
A Second Shot At Stolen Glory
The change needed starts with hiring Mark Jackson to coach the team.
Hes the best available candidate in the NBA right now. Take a look at the Golden State Warriors success over the last 30 years or so; making the playoffs with Chris Webber in 93-94 and then Webber being traded because of conflicts with coach Don Nelson. They didnt make the playoffs for 13-straight seasons until Baron Davis and them upset the Dallas Mavericks in 06-07.
Long before Golden State was a lock to make the playoffs for five straight seasons, the Warriors had to rediscover their postseason mojo. In 2007, a group of unlikely characters sparked the greatest upset in NBA postseason history and caught the imagination of the country with the “We Believe” movement.
The franchise floundered for a few seasons after that.
Then here comes Mark Jackson in from the booth. He coached Golden State for three years and they improved every year. Jackson won 23 games his first season, 47 games his second season and then 51 games. The next year Steve Kerr was brought in.
Jackson built that team. He made shrewd moves, Dub Nation was born, the Splash Brothers emerged and this basketball franchise went to higher heights. He was fired for unspecified reasons and they went out and got Kerr, who immediately reaped the benefits of Jackson building a championship foundation.
Kerr took a ready-made product, won 67 games and an NBA championship. Jackson was basically robbed of his opportunity to lead the team he constructed to the title.
ESPN commentator and former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson discusses current Warriors coach Steve Kerr and says, “You cannot disrespect the caterpillar and rave about the butterfly.”
Seizing The Moment
What’s so amazing about this situation in New York is the hiring of new general manager Scott Perry, who had stints in Sacramento and Orlando and Detroit. Perry has a rare opportunity to make a splash as a general manager in a basketball city that is desperately seeking a winner.
As Black men, we always talk about how we dont get enough opportunities. But here in New York, you have Steve Mills and Scott Perry, the only president and general manager tandem in the NBA that are African-American.
Its not about race, though. Its about the fact that this is a relationship business. If you go back and look at history; when Larry Bird became President of basketball operations for the Pacers, he fired Isaiah Thomas and hired his boy Rick Carlisle. We know what happened when Phil Jackson took over in New York. Mike Woodson won 54 games with the Knicks, but Phil fired him and brought in HIS guy, Derek Fisher.
Its time for Perry and Mills to end Action Jacksons hiatus from coaching and bring him into the fold.
New York is starving for a champion and a true identity. That starts with the coach.
Why not give the job to a native New Yorker; a guy who played high school and college ball in the city and helped to build its rich college basketball culture in the ’80s and ’90s. A guy who was Rookie of the Year for the Knicks, who’s proven he can win, who understands the streets and the corporate world and can relate to any ethnicity, personality or pain on and off the court.
You telling me Mark Jackson can’t lead the New York Knicks to the playoffs?
Mark Jackson is probably the single reason why LeBron James is stuck on three championships. Some can argue that Draymond Green has been the kryptonite for James success and you have to give credit where credit is due.
Without Mark Jackson guiding Green, he probably wouldn’t have survived in the NBA past his first few years. What other NBA head coach would be able to deal with Draymond’s personality and emotionally-charged character? And, he was a second round pick! Thats something to think about. On top of that, Jackson knew exactly what to do with Green in order to maximize his skill set and he brought him along slowly.
Draymond Green gives Mark Jackson a great embrace, as he is “proud” and emotional for his former team. http://t.co/aifDCmRTO2
Now, with Green being a point-forward and the way two-time NBA champion Golden State plays…its changed the landscape of how the game is played in the NBA today.
When Mark arrived, Klay Thompson was on the trading block. They were worried about Steph Curry, who had to suffer through the coaching of an over-the-hill Don Nelson and a novice in Keith Smart.
Jackson, on the other hand, felt that these guys were something special. He found a perfect system to fit his players’ different abilities and finessed their young minds and egos just right. He was the sensei who never got to see his proteges reach the promised land.
Nothing against Steve Kerr, but its a proven fact that Luke Walton started off 24-1 with this team in Kerrs absence. Mike Brown was winning as well. So is it Steve Kerr?
Or is it the culture of Mark Jackson ?
This Half Centurys Only True Team Constructor
Tell me what coach in the NBA that they call great in the last 40 years actually built a team with guys he chose and believed in?
Phil Jackson didn’t build the Chicago Bulls. Doug Collins and MJ had that team in the conference finals the year prior. Gregg Popovich didn’t build the San Antonio Spurs. They made the playoffs seven out of eight season prior to him getting the gig in ’96-’97. His predecessor Bob Hill won 62 games and took the team to a conference finals.
Pat Riley did not build the Lakers. Paul Westhead won the NBA championship with them two years before Riley got there. Larry Brown didn’t build the Detroit Pistons. Rick Carlisle took them to the Eastern Conference finals the year before that. Steve Kerr didn’t build the Golden State Warriors. These guys didn’t go through the grinding part.
A lot of these coaches get credit for doing nothing, winning with teams that were already tailor-made for them. Jackson has already proven that he can take some young guys, win basketball games and get them to the levels where they can be champions within three to four years. Its proven that you need talent to win, but when you can identify talent like Jackson can, then you can put it in place and build a foundation.
Look no further than Golden State.
Prior to Kevin Durants arrival, you had Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Draymond Green leading Golden State in an era where the one-and-done high school stud dominates the NBA. Jackson took players that nobody wanted and now all of a sudden they are all probably going to the Hall of Fame. Who gets the credit for that ? Mark Jackson.
CURRY: 26 pts | 7 AST | 5 REB | 4 STL THOMPSON: 9 PTS | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL GREEN: 4 PTS | 5 REB | 2 STL Golden State Warriors All-Star Game Highlights
So when you have the chance to bring in a guy that took a job that wasnt attractive and took a team that nobody wanted and built them into a first class NBA squad on the verge of dynastic accomplishments — and he’s been on the shelf for three years and the New York Knicks are starving for an identity… its a no-brainer.
The ball is in Perrys court. Is he a lame duck GM? Is he really going to let Jeff Hornacek dictate the fate of his career? Or is he gonna make a power move and bring in Mark Jackson to rekindle the franchise and give them a new, credible, winning identity?
New Era, New Game Plan
If James Dolan dont want Mark Jackson then James Dolan doesnt understand basketball.
Fat Joe is calling MORE Knicks heads to roll … saying Jimmy Dolan needs to put the crosshairs on head coach Jeff Hornacek after pulling the trigger on Phil Jackson. SUBSCRIBE — http://po.st/TMZSportsSubscribe About TMZ Sports: Some of the best stories in sports have been off the field and we’re reporting on athletes from NFL, NBA, UFC, WWE, MLB and more!
We’re in a new era where the superstar players have relationships with some of the former players who may be coaching and not that far removed from their playing days. With Mark being a former player, analyst and a former coach, the Knicks have a much better chance of acquiring a big name free agent in the summer of 2018 when LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Paul George and possibly Klay Thompson became free agents.
New York would be an attractive location for some of these stars again because Jackson has the credibility and an eye for building a winning system.
He and the Knicks are a perfect marriage.
Can you imagine Mark Jackson being the coach and leading New York City to an NBA Championship for the first time since 1973. Hes the savior for that franchise. Hes the only one that can do it.