Honeymoon over for Phil in New York?

VIDEO: Carmelo Anthony breaks down the Knicks’ latest loss

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You knew the finger-pointing was coming in New York. We all did.

But it was supposed to be aimed at the usual suspects … Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, the coach (in this case Derek Fisher), J.R. Smith and, of course, owner James Dolan.

Phil Jackson was supposed to be immune from this stuff, his championship rings protecting him from the blowback of what most level-headed observers expected to be a struggle of a season for the Knicks.

But things are playing out in unexpected ways these days in the big city. The Zen master is being singled out for not impacting things the way many expected when he took over the daily basketball operations in New York.

Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News takes aim with some pointed criticisms of the way the Jackson regime is conducting business, thus far:

Phil Jackson was going to come in and shed light into every dark corner of the organization, use his wit and his wiles to turn the Garden into a brighter, smarter place. The world’s most paranoid arena was going to become something less afraid of the truth.

But a quarter of the way through the season, the Knicks have dropped eight straight games and stand at 4-18, and Jackson has been about as big a presence as a one-off halftime show. He sits in his seat above midcourt, watching the Knicks blow one after another. They lost another one down the stretch on Sunday, falling 103-99, to the faster, younger Trail Blazers. How Jackson feels about this mess remains a mystery. Jackson might as well be Glen Grunwald or Steve Mills, for all we hear from him.

He was charming enough in his introductory press conference back in March, though some reporters weren’t permitted to ask him questions. He’s spoken only once to the assembled media since the season started, when he said that decisions would be made on players sometime around Thanksgiving or Christmas. We’re well past that first holiday, steaming downhill toward the second, and the only glimpse we get of Jackson is if he’s shown on camera near a security guard. When reporters had the nerve to ask him questions after opening night, and when Jackson had the audacity to answer, Garden officials changed the postgame route taken by those writers to make certain the media would not intersect with him again.

So Jackson hasn’t altered the Garden culture, and from the look of things he hasn’t changed the team in a good way, either. When he sent Tyson Chandler packing, he dumped the sharpest, toughest player of the bunch. Now Derek Fisher is left trying to teach a system to players who don’t own the skill sets to play it. As Hubie Brown once said of his 23-59 Knicks, “They’re trying. They’re just not good enough.”

The Knicks this season aren’t nearly good enough, which for some reason is surprising a lot of people. Is it surprising Jackson? Who knows? Let’s face it. Fans don’t care a bit what a team president says or believes, as long as the team is winning. But the loyalists pouring money into the Garden coffers certainly deserve some hint now at a blueprint.

Having visited the Knicks and PJax during training camp on the Hang Time Podcast Road Trip, it was clear to me that this would be an extensive “work in progress.” So I wasn’t expecting any miracles.

But I also didn’t expect things to come apart as quickly as they have for the new regime. The Knicks have better talent than their record indicates but lack the chemistry and understanding of the system to put things together in an Eastern Conference that has played musical chairs with the top spot through the first six weeks of the season.

The playoffs?

It’s already a mirage for the Knicks. They’re just trying to salvage what they can from this season and it’s not even Christmas. So maybe the honeymoon really is over for Phil in New York …


  1. Carlo says:

    Just look at the Hawks: in two seasons they got from “plain horrible” to “pretty good”, by flushing away all “Me,me” stars and hiring a proven (just ’cause comes from Pop’s school) coach, instead of a supposed guru. They built a franchise costing 1/10th of the Knicks while being 10 times – well, maybe 100 times – better.

  2. TSKsoon says:

    “The Knicks have better talent than their record indicates but lack the chemistry and understanding of the system to put things together in an Eastern Conference that has played musical chairs with the top spot through the first six weeks of the season.”

    Raptors have been in first all season. What are you talking about? Do you even watch basketball Sekou?

  3. knickfan says:

    As a diehard knickfan who have watched every game last season and this season so far, its been a torture! but if had to throw out some critisism its going towards carmelo anthony, he is supposed to be our superstar and a leader of the team, he should be able to win games almost by him self, we won 30+ games last season, and that was pretty much all carmelo anthony, our offense is ranked 22 or something, thats unacceptable with carmelo on the team.

    im done hoping for a turnaround like I did last season, but I do expect better than this:p
    We dont have the players for a triangle offense, simple as that.

  4. jake s. says:

    The next guy they get from the draft will be Phills’ lovechild. Carmelo is just a figure head for this team.

  5. Grandola says:

    Sometimes, you just have to fire everyone because there is a culture that you can’t escape. Perhaps Phil doesn’t have the carte blanche to do just that.

    More owners should take their cue from the Spurs owner… He doesn’t get involved in basketball, only the financials.

  6. harriethehawk says:


  7. harriethehawk says:

    Okay, so the triangle offense isn’t working. Too hard. Nobody gets it’s. How about we start easy and get progressively harder? How about we start with musical chairs? Or Ring Around the Rosie? Or Duck Duck Goose? Or my personal favorite, hide and go seek?

  8. Common Sense says:

    Phil Jackson isn’t supposed to talk to the press. He’s supposed to sit in his sky box and make decisions behind the scenes. The only way Derek Fisher will become a true coach is when he takes the heat, when he makes the adjustments and he feels the fire. Jackson is doing everything he promised. His brain is there. The triangle is a different method and needs to be learned and needs to be refined before it can be perfected. Any Knicks fans that expected a championship were out of their mind. What you need to look for is improvement on the floor, and finally communication between players. If they are down and out then they aren’t fighters. Champions are fighters. We’ll see what happens once they’ve had a year to put in the new system and then what trades are made. They’ll keep the pieces that work and remove the pieces that don’t. THAT is Phils job, nothing else. Phils job is between seasons not during. During the season is Derek…give him a chance…

  9. The angry Buddhist says:

    Decades of bad karma permeate The World’s Most Fatuous Arena
    Trading Walt Frazier
    Not resigning Bernard King after his rehab and
    Trading Hot Rod Strickland cost them a championship
    Acquiring Stephan Marbury, king of sulk
    And James Dolan, the spoiled billionaire brat

  10. Yao says:

    I think the Knicks need a real point guard and a true center. Anthony needs to learn how to share the balls at the right time when other are open. He needs a go 2 guy. I can’t see Anthony winning a championship in NY. He needs to take less role and team up with someone better or as good in order for him to win a ring.

  11. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    I’m confused, what is Fisher and Phil suppose to due with this team??? The talent is bad… I thought this was about the long haul, like the contracts getting off the books after this year????

  12. dustydreamnz says:

    Yeah, I couldn’t see them making the Playoffs this season. Their eye is on next year.

  13. bsj968 says:

    It’s called tanking

    • Carlo says:

      Nah! Tanking is when you have nobody, a cheap roster and no “win all” boasting and you aim for end-of-season draft for STARTING to build.
      Knicks have a super-expensive roster, “stars” (or at least somebody supposed to be), they boasted “playoffs!” and even if they end season on the bottom, they won’t get any good pick.
      A few years ago they traded away half the team to Denver to get Anthony. Is that strategy? That’s stupidity. Anybody – but them and NY fans, it seems – knows that a team is A TEAM, not a one-man-band. So, to fix things a bit who did they hire? Mr.Selfishbutunreliable II: JRSmith.