12.24.04

Phil & The Knicks

Posted in Basketball at 1:03 am by

Phil Jackson has far too much respect for Lenny Wilkens to aggressively campaign for the Knicks coaching job. But he doesn’t have nearly enough respect for Lenny to refuse to talk to the New York Times’ Howard Beck about it.

“There’s a process teams go through to put themselves in a competitive place,” Jackson said in a telephone interview. “And when they get to that position, I felt like if they want me to coach that team, I’d have to listen to them, because of my connections in New York and my connections as a Knick. But I certainly don’t want to step in and muddy the water around Lenny Wilkens. He’s a great coach. I’m very respectful of him.”

“There’s a process teams go through to put themselves in a competitive place,” Jackson said in a telephone interview. “And when they get to that position, I felt like if they want me to coach that team, I’d have to listen to them, because of my connections in New York and my connections as a Knick. But I certainly don’t want to step in and muddy the water around Lenny Wilkens. He’s a great coach. I’m very respectful of him.”

This is at least the second time Jackson has acknowledged interest in coaching the Knicks since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers after last season. In October, he told The New York Post that he would listen if the Knicks called. But he has been careful not to lobby openly for the job, and he has no plans to return to the N.B.A. this season.

“They have one of the great coaches in the game at their helm right now,” Jackson said, referring to Wilkens.

If he returns to the N.B.A., Jackson wants to coach a team that has a chance to contend for a championship within a few years. He ruled out any wholesale-rebuilding efforts.

“It has to be a challenge,” he said. “The team that has a glimmer of hope, that has potential, where you have a challenge that’s out there and an opportunity, I think is what every coach wants. You want to think you have an opportunity to win.”

This is at least the second time Jackson has acknowledged interest in coaching the Knicks since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers after last season. In October, he told The New York Post that he would listen if the Knicks called. But he has been careful not to lobby openly for the job, and he has no plans to return to the N.B.A. this season.

“They have one of the great coaches in the game at their helm right now,” Jackson said, referring to Wilkens.

Jackson knew then that he would coach again. This time, nothing is certain, although friends say he has already grown restless with his low-key life in Playa Del Rey, Calif.

“I haven’t reached the point yet where I feel the drive,” Jackson said of coaching. “But I anticipate that’s a possibility before this year is up. The internal spark of energy or light is there, to get back on this and drive a bunch of young men toward a championship or toward winning.”

If he returns to the N.B.A., Jackson wants to coach a team that has a chance to contend for a championship within a few years. He ruled out any wholesale-rebuilding efforts.

“It has to be a challenge,” he said. “The team that has a glimmer of hope, that has potential, where you have a challenge that’s out there and an opportunity, I think is what every coach wants. You want to think you have an opportunity to win.”

OK, in that case, Lenny can rest easy.

One Response to “Phil & The Knicks”

  1. Tommy Hoops says:

    Hard to picture Big Chief Triangle coaching the Knicks anytime soon – they’re about two Top 50 players short of his minimum requirements.

    And it’s not surprising that Jackson would pull a subtle submarine move on Wilkens – or anybody for that matter. I just read his book ‘The Last Season’, and it’s pretty shocking how willing he was to spill the beans about stuff that went down less than a year ago.

    Considering that some of these people still have to have work together – Kobe and Jerry Buss, for example – the book stands as the greatest ‘fuck all y’all’ parting shots since Joe Eszterhas’s ‘Hollywood Animal’. Except Joe doesn’t have much desire/ability to return to Hollywood.

    On a side note, Phil never refers to Jeff Van Gundy by his full name throughout the book. He only calls him ‘Van Gundy’. What a dick.

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