Mark Jackson, a former Knicks guard and native New Yorker, did not mince words Tuesday regarding the state of things back home, calling Phil Jackson’s term as the Knicks’ president “a failure so far.”
First, the ABC/ESPN analyst called Phil Jackson “one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports — not just basketball, but in sports. I can say that definitively.”
Then he added, “I can also look at the numbers and say as the guy running the New York Knicks he’s done a poor job. When you look at the results, it’s been a failure so far.”
This was during a conference call with Mark Jackson and fellow analyst Jeff Van Gundy to preview the network’s coverage of the NBA Finals starting Thursday.
Every question but one involved the Finals, but inevitably the subject of Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks came up for Mark Jackson and for Van Gundy, a former Knicks coach.
“Carmelo Anthony is an outstanding basketball player who has handled himself remarkably during these last couple of years and like Jeff said, at the end of the day he negotiated a no-trade clause,” Mark Jackson said.
“I think you’re going about it the wrong way trying to force him out. He’s got all the power, and he’s taking full advantage of it.”
Van Gundy, who once famously called Phil Jackson “Big Chief Triangle,” said, “I think Carmelo handled himself exceptionally well this year. I think it’s a difficult situation. I think, like all players who age, he’s lost a little athleticism. But he’s still a very effective player and I thought he stayed above the fray and I applaud him for that.
“As far as their strategy, I don’t know what their strategy is. I don’t know if it’s to try to make it uncomfortable for him so he’s more willing to accept a trade. But certainly Phil Jackson has laid out his vision that it would be better for Carmelo and better for the Knicks that he is not there next year.
“Carmelo Anthony negotiated a no-trade clause in his contract, which Phil Jackson gave him, and so I’m really interested to see, does he want to be someplace that doesn’t want him, even though that may be his destination of choice? Or is he willing now to accept a different environment, a more welcoming environment, for him to finish off his career with.”