Once Phil Jackson was installed as president of basketball operations for the Knicks, his first (real) order of business was to put a coaching staff in place that would be capable of running the team based on his own principles.
Jackson won 11 championships as a head coach, but health concerns prevent him from continuing in that role at his advanced age. So, he did the next best thing, and hired people who he knew would be loyal after being a part of his past success.
That’s how Derek Fisher, a veteran point guard who played under Jackson with the Lakers and was a member of the Thunder as recently as last season, ended up being hired as New York’s head coach. The rest of the coaching staff is full of tenured assistants like Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, both of whom taught aspects of the Triangle Offense while working alongside Jackson in Los Angeles.
Jackson’s fingerprints will be all over how the Knicks are coached this season, but Fisher knows that for him to truly find success, he has to emerge as the one calling the shots, at least to a certain extent.
Knicks rookie coach Derek Fisher said he is not a Phil Jackson clone or puppet and has learned plenty from other marquee coaches. …
“I’m not Phil Jackson, that’s for sure,” Fisher said Friday in Tarrytown. “I am not going to try to be or even pretend to be. I’ve for sure taken a lot of the basketball experiences and knowledge and life experiences and knowledge from working for Phil for so many years. So there will for sure be some things I will try and channel.”
“At the same time, I’ve learned a lot from other coaches, other men, other people that inspire me, other great leaders, other great athletes, great people that I’ll also channel.” …
“There will be some boundaries that we have to have within our relationship,” Fisher said. “But at the end of the day Phil is running this department.”
And that’s it exactly.
Make no mistake, Jackson will be coaching by proxy from the front office, especially in the early days as Fisher is finding his way. But ultimately, Fisher will have to split from Jackson, especially from the players vantage point, in order to command the team’s respect.