It is year two in the Phil Jackson regime. Although the Knicks have upgraded the roster with Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez, they still remain stuck on near empty, situated as they are on the bottom rung of a ladder they cannot possibly climb. It will be another tough, grueling campaign for the Knicks in 2015-16. Jackson will be judged once more, as either heroic or vastly overpaid. He met the media and was asked about his own team, his role, and Kobe Bryant’s future.
That he plans to be more engaged was the biggest news coming out of the press conference.
“I thought I stepped back too far last year. I wanted Derek (Fisher) to be his own person, to have his own feel for this, and that was multiplied in numbers of ways. Derek has asked me to be a little more present this year actually, not in the aspect of coaching, but just in being around and talking basketball and influential in observations. I think I’ll probably be even more involved than I was last year as far as being here and being watchful and suggestive, watching film together with Derek. “
It’s a no brainer that players respond to a coach who has won 11 rings and coached two of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history, not to mention Shaquille O’Neal. Because Derek Fisher is still learning how to be a coach and the transition, as expected, has been littered with growing pains, Jackson’s presence can alleviate some of the burdens. He can smooth the learning curve a little bit and at the very least quiet the room. Jackson has a presence about him, a dominant charisma that when he walks in the room everyone pays attention.
Jackson was asked to predict the Knicks season, which, even if he wanted to, is an impossible proposition. Players get injured, chemistry is always fluid, things crop up that no one expects. Plus, last year he was burned. Jackson said the Knicks would make the playoffs; they didn’t. No need to repeat that same mistake.
“I want to stay away from expectations. It’s such a long season.”
Jackson was asked to speculate about his former player, Kobe Bryant, who he mentored, fathered, coached, ministered to, lectured, yelled at, cussed out, praised for 11 years. Would this be Kobe’s last year, this 20th season for the shooting guard.
“I don’t think it’s his last year. It sounds like it may be his last year as a Laker.”
Jackson was referring to a comment Jim Buss made earlier in the summer where Buss said, “he (Kobe) has to know at that age and that many miles on you what is your role? We’ll explain the role and if he still wants to do that and that’s how he wants to go out, that’s fine with me.”
In other words, the Lakers are anxious for the Kobe Bryant era to end. But Kobe may be thinking something quite different. Jackson still believes in his star pupil who he will see in the sixth game of the 2015-16 season, in New York.
“I think he’s going to be really better than what people think, and I think there will still be a future for him as he goes through this season into next year, where people are going to ask, ‘Do you still want to play basketball?’ So we’ll see how it goes.”
Did Phil Jackson just tamper? Did he throw out a lifeline for Kobe to play in the Garden in 2016-17?
photo via llananba