By Thomas Ross, Staff Writer ||
New York City is widely considered the hub for recruiting high school basketball talent in the country. But housing “The World’s Most Famous Arena” and being dubbed the “Mecca” of basketball hasn’t helped the Knicks achieve basketball immortality since 1973.
In the early 2000s, owner James Dolan took on a larger role in managing the Knicks’s day-to-day operations. The constant inconsistency Dolan displayed in his management of the Knicks resulted in a myriad of problems for the franchise. Ignoring the entire Isaiah Thomas debacle, the Knicks missed the playoffs for six straight seasons, from 2004 to 2010 and put together 11 consecutive losing seasons after the NBA finals in 1999.
Knicks fans thought their luck was beginning to change with the acquisition of Amare Stoudemire and, a year later, Carmelo Anthony.
But four years after signing Amare, the team has again fallen into irrelevancy in the Eastern Conference. And with the possibility of losing Carmelo to free agency this summer still looming, Knicks fans have been after Dolan’s head all season long. This culminated with a fan protest outside Madison Square Garden last Wednesday, when fans wanted Dolan to resign or sell the franchise.
These fans were not successful in their plea. But with the hiring of Phil Jackson as president of basketball operations for the Knicks, they may have been successful in forcing Dolan to concede all basketball decisions to a person far more imminently qualified than Dolan.
During the press conference introducing Jackson as the president of basketball operations, Dolan said, “I am by no means an expert in basketball as a fan. My expertise lies in managing companies and businesses, so I think I’m a little out of my element when it comes to the team.”
It appears that Dolan has had a remarkable epiphany and has realized that he knows nothing about running a basketball team and needed to empower others to have responsibility for the basketball decisions to be made by the franchise.
Or is it just the fact that the greatest living basketball mind walked into the room and almost anybody, even an individual as pompous as James Dolan, would have to grant Phil Jackson control of the Knicks franchise? Although I would like to believe Dolan has turned over a new leaf, I tend to believe the latter and that it took somebody of Jackson’s stature to finally force Dolan to take a backseat in the basketball decision making process of the franchise.
Jackson’s resume speaks for itself and is virtually unblemished. Jackson has been a part of an unprecedented 13 championships, ten as a coach and two as a player with the Knicks. This is Jackson’s first front office position, though Carmelo has already begun to talk about Jackson as if he was his coach. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out as Phil assembles the pieces, from head coach to player personnel. The coach of the Knicks next season, whomever that may be, will need to understand that Jackson is “top dog.”
Many people have already begun to speculate who will replace head coach Mike Woodson at season’s end. In NBA circles around the country, the most frequent name being mentioned is Steve Kerr, the rumor being the job is his if he wants it.
Kerr won three rings as a player with the Chicago Bulls in the mid 90s and has served as president of basketball operations and general manager of the Phoenix Suns in the past. As of now, Kerr works for TNT as a video analyst. Jackson will need to convince Kerr to leave the booth and join the Knicks.
Only time will tell whether or not Dolan stands true to his word and lets Jackson control basketball operations of the team. Even if he does, the Zen Master has his work cut out for him.
Senior Thomas Ross is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.