In the spring of 1973, the New York Knicks won their second championship in three years, with the help of a long-haired, long arm, skinny, defense-oriented sixth man by the name of Phil Jackson.
After winning six championships with the Bulls and five with the Lakers, Phil Jackson may find himself back in the place where he won his first two championships as a player – the mecca of basketball: Madison Square Garden.
Jackson is already one of the greatest coaches in North American sports history, but if he brings the Knicks their first title since he himself was a player, he would be on the Mount Rushmore of New York sporting figures.
The end of this impending Eastern Conference playoff sweep on Sunday has the Knicks on the apex of reaching out to the man who can potentially bridge a thirty-nine-year gap between championships. What would it take to lure the Zen Master out of retirement? For starters, Knicks’ General Manager, Glen Grunwald, must put together a roster that is conducive to Phil Jackson’s coaching style. Phil Jackson has always had a roster with at least one superstar, and a supporting cast willing to pay the price to win a championship. Offering Jackson a contract within the three year, $40 to 50 million dollar contract would be a step in the right direction in removing the blockade that separates him from the basketball kingdom he helped build 40 years ago.
A potential road block in the way of Jackson’s MSG return is his age. He is 66 years old, and his health has always been a major concern. Ever since Larry Brown and Lenny Wilkins left the organization, the Knicks has gained a reputation of being a team where great coaches come to ride off into the sunset; and owner James Dolan wants to kill that reputation.
Other roadblocks include both the on- and off-court issues of unpredictable players such as Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith. Since entering the league in 2003, Carmelo Anthony has the worst playoff record in the NBA with a 16-36. (.308) If anyone can rectify this and bring Carmelo’s game to a new level, it’s Phil Jackson.
According to sources, Phil Jackson isn’t thrilled with the Knicks personnel, but hasn’t ruled out considering the job. If he does take the job, it isn’t going to be a manageable task considering all the pressures associated with playing in Gotham City.
This city will either make you or break you, and in Phil Jackson’s case, if he brings a championship to the Knicks, he would be looked at as the greatest NY sports figure in history.