Mark Jackson knows a thing or two about New York — he played his college ball at St. John’s then played 500 games over seven seasons for the Knicks, most of them as their starting point guard.
Which is why some Knicks fans want him back as a coach now. That’s not happening — he is a complete oil and water mix with Phil Jackson, the team president. They are very different people. Very. Different philosophies on life, basketball and just about everything else. It’s not that either Jackson is wrong, it’s just a terrible fit.
But Jackson knows a few things about New York. And he talked about it and coaching in New York on an NBA Finals conference call Wednesday (Jackson is part of the broadcast team for ABC for the Finals, along with Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breem). Here is what Jackson said, as reported by Newsday.
“Everybody’s not made for New York City,” Jackson said during a conference call Wednesday promoting the NBA Finals on ABC. “That’s whether you’re management, whether you’re playing, whether you’re coaching.
“I remember as a kid watching very good to great players play other places, be traded to the Knicks and not be the same type of player, whereas some propelled when they got the opportunity to put on a Knick uniform. And it’s something about the fans. It’s something about the pressure. It’s something about the media.
“So to be quite honest, everybody is not built for it. It’s a different animal. It’s a different monster and it takes a special personality and a person understanding the things that come into play to a ’T’.”
When asked if he wanted to be that coach, Jackson dodged the question and said he thought Phil Jackson would find the right guy.
Phil thinks that guy is Derek Fisher. The two are expected to talk this week.
Jackson sees his job as far more than just hiring a coach or bringing in players (and keeping Carmelo Anthony around), it’s to change the culture of the Knicks organization. In the NBA you win from the top down — why do you think the same markets keep winning NBA titles. Yes, certain markets have advantages, but San Antonio isn’t one of them. Yet here they are in the Finals. Despite what some think Miami is a mid-sized NBA market. But both of them have an ownership committed to a system. The Knicks…. not so much.
Phil Jackson knows that is what he must change first. He also knows that is not going to be easy, and he needs the right coach to be his partner.
Mark Jackson is right too, New York is not for everyone. Not as a coach for sure. I don’t know if Derek Fisher is one of those guys or not, but we’re likely going to find out.