Phil Jackson tension good for Knicks

By Sekou Smith,

VIDEO: Knicks fans give new team president Phil Jackson a standing ovation

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS —Β The standing ovation was a given.

The hero’s welcome from that wild Madison Square Garden crowd on hand for the first official game of the Phil Jackson era was right off the pages of the script of a Broadway production. And the Knicks nailed the ending, knocking off the Eastern Conference leading (and reeling) Indiana Pacers to punctuate the night.

The Knicks have won seven straight and are giving legitimate chase for that eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, a last-dtich effort to put a little lipstick on a season gone awry. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they heated up around the time the Jackson rumors cranked up.

That same energy that was in the building last night is the same type of energy that fuels seasons in the NBA. A healthy dose of tension, the good kind that puts everyone on alert and drives a lackluster or average effort into an elevated state, can work for all involved. Think of it as the Knicks’ very own version of March Madness. If they can keep it going long enough, maybe they can find their way into the playoffs (something the new boss has mentioned repeatedly) against all odds.

Carmelo Anthony has played this way all season. He’s been relentless, even while some others wearing Knicks uniforms have not been on that same page, so to speak. He was relentless last night, as Knicks coach Mike Woodson found out during one timeout. Phil’s presence gives the rest of the Knicks, coaches and players alike, something to play for the rest of this season. Intended or not, his arrival gives this team a rallying point that can be used in whatever way is needed.

Watching Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. and even J.R. Smith all crank it up to that next level with Anthony shows us that the Knicks have had it in them all along.

If you listen to the men who have had the ultimate success with Jackson, this is what they insist he will bring to the Knicks. A championship-level attitude and energy might well be worth the $12 million a year Knicks owner James Dolan is reportedly paying the Zen master for his presence.

Kobe Bryant certainly believes it to be true. He told the “Dan Patrick Show” yesterday that the entire Knicks roster is in store for a type of wisdom they haven’t been privy to before Jackson’s arrival. And yes, Bryant thinks Jackson can do it from the president’s perch instead of the coaching fox hole:

“I just think his mentorship shifts,” Bryant said. “I think it goes from having a direct influence on the players themselves to having a direct influence on the coaching staff, which he’s accustomed to doing because that’s how he coached as well.

“He really had a great rapport with his coaching staff and he was really a great mentor for them, and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing and it will just kind of trickle down from there. It’s really no different from what Pat [Riley] has been able to do in Miami with [Erik] Spoelstra.”

There’s no need to go there right now with the Riley and Jackson comparisons. Riley has accomplished far more as an executive and it’s an unreasonable measurement at this stage of the game.

What should resonate, though, is the staunch support Jackson is receiving from all corners of the basketball establishment. You expect it from his former players. But I’ve spoken with several of his new competitors, executives who have every reason to root against him, that think his presence alone changes the game in New York.

“People talk all the time about changing the culture and reshaping a franchise,” a Western Conference assistant general manager told me, “but they don’t come through the door and command the respect of the people within the organization. And I mean the secretaries, the training staff, the folks in the ticket office as well as the coaches and players. Phil doesn’t have to worry about that. He’s got everyone’s attention. It’s his show now.”

Indeed it is. And if the first impression means anything, it’s going to be a wild ride for the Knicks and their fans.

VIDEO: Carmelo Anthony talks about the Knicks’ streak and Phil Jackson’s potential impact


  1. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    The 2 best NBA scorers on the same team. That sounds like fun to me, maaan. πŸ™‚

    KD and Russell and Carmelo were awesome on the 2012 Olympic team.

    Imagine them joining up with the Thunder after this season in which the Knicks fail to make the playoffs for the first time since … does anyone know the last time the NY Knicks FAILED to make the playoffs? Egad.

    Melo, get out of that downward spiral and join up with 2 former Olympic Gold Medal teammates.

  2. Bob Slydell says:

    I’m really rooting for the Knicks to make the playoffs. Nobody cares about the eternally boring Hawks (yet another first or second round playoff exit? Boring!) and a Knicks-Pacers series would be feisty and awesome. Go Knicks!

  3. Nay says:

    With the NBA regular season coming to an end, here is a list of potential award winners for the 2013/14 season:

  4. okc2014 says:

    I’m not a Knicks fan, but I will certainly be tuned in to any and all developments with this team. I find it all very interesting…Oh, I think the first order of business will be to boot the coach. Awwwww….

  5. marty says:

    Not buying this hype.6 game win streak prior to arrival..A new boss usually gets employees on their best behavior initially.

  6. Just his presence and inspiring talks and lessons he can teach players is showing already, Its like a fresh start with Phil and next year will be a much better season for Knicks, Next thing is get new coach, get rid of felton, get better pg who is better role model and leader for Tim Hardaway and whole team. And few more adjustments and play in Phils system and he will bring best out of Knicks and put them in best system for them

  7. newyorksteelo says:

    The haters will hate, but the truth is that Phil Jackson has that “it” factor that will change the Knicks in the years to come.

  8. Flexy says:

    Who Cares…Miami still gonna win it all

  9. Phil needs to Harlem shake himself outta NY.

    At this moment he is only causing distraction & speculation. If people are making a comparison with Pat & Spo that would mean that Mike W is out after this season.

    But ok Im not the expert here, however I think that NY has found a new Isiah Thomas in Phil Jackson.

    In other words….here we go again!