67RIEFNS No. 10: Phil Jackson’s influence


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the doldrums of the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Phil Jackson might be the most overrated coach in NBA history.

He also might be the best, which wouldn’t eliminate the overrated title from also being accurate.

Jackson has won 11 championships. In 20 seasons, he’s never missed the playoffs. Eighteen of those teams won at least one postseason series

But he’s also been blessed with some of the game’s greatest players. On every single one of his teams, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant was the top player. The sidekicks – including Pippen, Kobe, Dennis Rodman and Pau Gasol – were pretty stellar, too.

And now Jackson has Carmelo Anthony and…???

Check that, Derek Fisher has Melo and someone else (Jose Calderon? Tim Hardaway Jr.? J.R. Smith? Amar’e Stoudemire?) as New York’s top two players.

As much as they deny it, Jackson is positioned to have a huge influence on this team.

Fisher might be more than a puppet, but Jackson carries too much coaching cachet to be ignored. Even indirectly, after years of coaching Fisher and grooming him for this job, Jackson will have his influence felt.

Of course, Jackson can get proactive and take a larger role – and I sure hope he does.

Finally, this could be our chance to see how Jackson – and his vaunted triangle offense – works with lesser players.

Melo is a star, but he’s no Jordan/O’Neal/Kobe. And whichever Knick emerges as the New York’s second-best player can’t hold a candle to Pippen/Kobe/Rodman/Gasol.

If Jackson coaches through Fisher, we’re going to see Michelangelo finger-painting. Maybe he’ll still produce masterpieces, or maybe it’ll all turn into a brownish sludge.

Either way, we’d have living legend back in the league, trying to fix one of the league’s most stubborn rosters.

If Jackson continues to take a back seat, though, I guess I can settle for a version of the triangle that should be better than Kurt Rambis’. Fisher will bring those familiar elements of Jackson teams.

At this point, just those subtle reminders of those great Bulls and Lakers teams is enough. The triangle has been rarely duplicated and even more rarely duplicated well since Jackson’s heyday.

No matter what he does this season, Jackson is bring his influence back to the NBA.

I just hope he pushes Fisher to make that influence as strong as possible.