The Knicks fell to 2-6 on the young season after losing at home to the Hawks on Monday, but it was the team’s loss in Atlanta just two nights earlier that had the attention of Phil Jackson.
While New York is clearly struggling to implement a new offensive system, it wasn’t the team’s play that had drawn Jackson’s ire.
Rather, it was the way the officiating was affecting things in Jackson’s eyes, and he spoke out on the matter just as he had done throughout his Hall of Fame career as a head coach.
“I did step on the court today and tell players that if guys lean all over you and put their nose in your business, you have a right to protect yourself,” Jackson said Monday night, using one of his pet peeves to answer a question about how involved he is with the team’s day-to-day, on-court activities. “I was disappointed in the refereeing the other night with letting Atlanta slap the ball out of our players’ hands and get turnovers that were really out of the positional favor. So we have to be much firmer with the ball and so that irritated me as a sideline observer.”
At one point, Jackson remarked that the reason he took the Knicks job was the opportunity to “impart what I have learned.” Perhaps, the Zen Master also missed writing fine checks to the league office.
Jackson used to do this constantly, particularly when his teams were embroiled in a highly-competitive playoff series. He would single out a specific point of emphasis that he felt the referees were allowing to the detriment of his team’s chances, and usually, at least for a portion of the next game, the calls went in his team’s favor.
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But the way teams are aggressively attacking these Knicks, by bodying up defensively and aggressively playing the predictable passing lanes, it doesn’t appear as though a change in the way the games are officiated would be of much help to New York’s chances. The team needs to get more familiar and more confident with the many options that the offense presents, and until that happens, the struggles will remain, even if the officiating were to suddenly change.