The Perception of Phil Jackson Matters

Knicks president Phil Jackson has once again garnered attention for his unconventional ways.

The Zen Master is taking a leisurely trip to Montana as New York sits around with no head coach in place and the draft plus free agency rapidly approaching.

I asked ESPN’s Amin Elhassan, who used to work in the Suns front office, when is the typical time for front office executives go to go on vacation and this was his response: 

There’s an argument to be made none of this shit matters. Jackson’s a normal human and like any other person has the right to do what he pleases. 

Maybe in the end everything works out and Knicks fans can look back at the strange way he goes about his business with a good laugh. 

General manager Steve Mills, the scouting staff, and even Jackson himself are all probably putting in the necessary work to be prepared for an important offseason. 

The problem with the above is perception matters and the optics of Jackson going away at this time are poor. That can’t be argued whether you’re ok with the road trip or not. 

The Knicks don’t have a head coach and as teams like the Rockets and Kings are looking in every direction — Carmelo Anthony is literally begging New York to do the same with it falling on deaf ears. 

Teams across the league are starting to conduct workouts to get ready for July’s draft. I’m sure the Knicks will be in the future too even though they don’t have a pick, but why not start now? 

As the top man in the basketball operations department Jackson sets a tone for everyone else. 

Most people have worked a job where their boss didn’t lead by example and understands the trickle down effect it can bring.  

There’s an expectation of players, coaches and front office personnel to use their own time to be properly prepared for next season. 

What’s the illustration Jackson draws by stepping away at this time? 

Not to mention how it looks across the league. 

Jackson is the man sitting at the head of the table as the Knicks try to recruit free agents when essentially the entire league is going to be flush with cap space. 

The last thing the Knicks need is for their point man to have a reputation of being aloof and stubborn — this is dangerously close to happening if it hasn’t already. 

Most of Jackson’s actions are harmless in a vacuum, but what he’s doing is making selling the Knicks to others harder. 

Jackson’s responsible for creating an image of the Knicks franchise that’s attractive and for a little bit it looked like he was. There was an aura of normalcy, a separation of Dolan and the state. 

Being a president of an NBA team is bigger than putting a roster together. You need to be in tune with the operation from top to bottom. 

And Jackson very well might be, but it’s hard to imagine from the view we’re getting on the outside. 

Jackson’s the singular person responsible for creating that perception. 


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Representing all Knicks fans of Arizona. This is unfortunate for all of them. Unabashed lover of J.R. Smith.

5 thoughts to “The Perception of Phil Jackson Matters”

  1. It’s weird, but I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal. Jackson’s always been weird. So I don’t think him being weird now will affect free agents either way.

  2. OK…. we get it…. You don’t like Jackson and his management “style”.

    Where and when he gets his Thai food is his business, period. Any EVIDENCE he is unprepared? He had Europe scouted well enough to find the best possible player in the world at #4 and made a nice San Antonio style Euro-stash pick with WHG, no? Any complaints on preparedness there…. where it actually matters? Like Rolo much as a value, long term acquisition? Took a few cheap reasonable flyers on players on short relatively innocuous contracts which weren’t exceptionally good or bad.

    Is it not wise to see what coaches are actually available before signing one? Is there a rush of some sort…. because the “fans” don’t know any better or Great Carmelo wants a seat at the big boy table?

    For all you poker players out there Phil is the undisputed champion of using Metagame… making odd little meaningless feints to obscure one’s actual strategy.

    Plus…. he gets off on trolling the shit out of you guys….. did no one ever listen t him when he was a player here?

  3. I’m just worried about Vogel. If he’s fired today, Phil has to reach out to that man. I’d prefer he’d be in New York, but if the Knicks can secure Vogel’s services while Phil is in Montana that’s cool too. Just don’t screw this one up, please. It’s very possible we can lose Vogel to Houston.

  4. This is the 21st Century. Phil can be in Tangiers and still hire a coach.

    And don’t worry about Vogel. I’m sure he’s Phil’s guy. After all, Vogel was born on the summer solstice in the year of the ox. Total no-brainer.

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