When Phil Jackson was hired by the Knicks to be the team’s president of basketball operations, and then installed a first-time head coach in Derek Fisher, many believed that Jackson would be essentially coaching the team by proxy.
After all, Fisher played under Jackson and won championships when the two were with the Lakers, so that mentorship relationship was already in place. And, Fisher’s assistants include Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, both of whom were similarly a part of Jackson’s coaching staff in the past.
But at least in the early stages of Knicks training camp, Jackson has remained silent, which is ultimately probably best for Fisher while he establishes himself. If Jackson’s latest comments are any indication, however, it doesn’t appear as though the transition for him has been easy.
“Sitting there a couple of hours, you attentively stay in tune with what’s going on out there,’’ Jackson said. “But there are times you want to get up and want to say something and you resist. Let them feel their way out there.”
Did he fight the urge?
“I didn’t fight it,’’ Jackson said. “At times I actually got up. I just got up and walked it out [without talking].’’
There’s more in there, including Jackson essentially refusing to grade Fisher in his first week running things, and Jackson ending the interview session with reporters more abruptly than usual, walking away in the middle of a reporter’s question.
It could be that Jackson was simply a bit cranky on this day. Or, it may be that he’s struggling to deal with the fact that his coaching days are finished.