Dennis Rodman showed up in New York on Tuesday wearing a replica No. 18 Phil Jackson Knicks jersey and bearing words of sympathy for his former coach.
The five-time NBA champion forward was not so kind when it came to the Knicks president's head coach and star player, however.
"If I know Phil, he just feels like [expletive] right now," Rodman said at a breakfast to promote Steiner Sports' new line of handwritten essays by former athletes over pictures of key moments in their careers.
The event was held at the steakhouse in Grand Central Terminal named for Rodman's former teammate, Michael Jordan.
"I think he just feels like, you know, wow, I thought I came in here to try to do a great job and try to revitalize the city of New York," Rodman said. "He didn't expect this. I saw him a couple of times on TV when I was in L.A. and I'm like, I know what you feel like, Phil.
"You came to be the savior and all of a sudden it's like, ugh, then you went and got Derek Fisher. Really, is he coaching? Is Derek Fisher coaching? I don't get it. I don't know what's up with that team, man. You've got Carmelo [Anthony] and after that who else do you got?
"They're not running the triangle. Derek Fisher's not really coaching. I know Phil is trying to throw his input in the background but who expected this from Phil? They expected him, we're going to give you $15 million a year for the next six years and this team is - wow - they might not even make the playoffs."
(Actually, Jackson reportedly will earn $60 million over five years.)
"He didn't expect this," Rodman said. "He expected the team to be somewhat decent. But it's so difficult when you're coming from a winning organization like Chicago and you have to come back here and come to a system where it's probably the No. 1 city in the world as far as marketing, entertainment, stuff like that, and to come here and then it's like wow, and your hands are pretty much tied because you can't do anything. You have to just sit back and watch it."
Might Jackson be able to fix things over time, though?
"Well, he's not a coach, though. He's not a coach. He's a GM or whatever he is right now. He's not a coach. I don't think Phil Jackson will ever come down from the front office to go on that bench. I don't think he's going to do that. There's no way. There's no way in hell. He won't do that because he can't fix it."
Asked if the remarks mattered to him, Fisher said, “No. It doesn’t impact my day at all.”
Fisher added: “I thought he was a bright teammate, knows the game pretty well, at least at that time. Outside looking in is always a little different.”
Rodman was skeptical about how eager free agents would be to join Anthony, and how well the triangle offense can work with Anthony as its centerpiece.
"How are you going to play with a superstar like Carmelo Anthony when he wants to shoot the ball all the time and everybody else has to play their role?" he said. "How are you going to do that? Phil Jackson did that with Michael Jordan at the beginning and guess what happened?. He put a team around Michael Jordan and everybody fit right in.
"Everyone knew who the boss was, that was him, Michael Jordan. Everybody knew who Kobe [Bryant] was. Kobe and Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal], they played their roles. Who is the man here in New York besides Carmelo? Nobody wants to play together with Carmelo, it seems like."
Rodman said it took him "probably 15 minutes" to learn the triangle when he went to the Bulls.
"It's not that difficult; it's a triangle," he said. "Do this, do this, go to the corner, you go over this way, that way, boom, you sit right here, post guys over here, over there. It's a triangle, boom, boom, like that.
"Boom, boom, boom, like a triangle. That's all it is. And the players outside have to do their thing, also boom, make it a triangle, come across, boom, split, go over this way, triangle.
"It's not that difficult, because everyone has an opportunity to touch the ball and shoot it but it seems like when they go through the first formation it comes back to Carmelo Anthony and everything stops, right? Everything stops. What are you going to do?"
Finally, Rodman jokingly questioned just how much first-year coach (and former teammate) Steve Kerr, who was Jackson's first choice to coach the Knicks, has to do with the Warriors' early success.
"Steve Kerr ain't coaching [expletive]," he said. "Steve Kerr is having a good time. He ain't coaching. He's just having a good time. He's just sitting there letting those kids shoot. That's all he's doing, man. He ain't doing a damn thing. You know I'm joking, Steve."
With Al Iannazzone