There will not be “We Want Phil” chants at Madison Square Garden on Friday night (or certainly not ones with the volume and passion Lakers fans showed Tuesday where the chants could be heard in the Lakers locker room).
But Phil Jackson is returning to New York and MSG Friday night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1973 Knicks championship team. Jackson averaged 8.1 points a game for that team.
But Jackson as the specter hanging over the coach is not a problem in New York anymore, reports Howard Beck at the New York Times.
The possibility of Jackson’s return to the Knicks as a coach or an executive has been floated many times over the years, but it has never come close to happening. The Knicks declined to contact him last spring before promoting Mike Woodson.
Jackson, 67, has all but ruled out coaching again and is instead eyeing possible front-office roles with a handful of teams. The Nets have inquired, but Jackson is not interested. He seems unlikely to leave the West Coast after becoming engaged to Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president.
Walt Frazier, the leader of that 1973 team, said the squad being honored reminds him of this year’s team. That’s a lot to ask, but this is New York so you know the expectations are already there.