Phil Jackson is a man who is not afraid to hold steadfast to his belief system, whether he is acting as a citizen or as Knicks president.
Jackson, in an interview with ESPN released Monday, said he hasn’t voted in a presidential election since 1980 because he thinks the system is rigged. And, more importantly to Knicks fans, he hasn’t considered changing his plan for rebuilding his team despite its poor start.
“It’s a process of sticking to my beliefs and being able to say, ‘Whatever.’ This is what I was hired to do,” Jackson told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. “I’m going to follow the plan, and if it doesn’t work out, it will be evident.”
The Knicks are starting their third full season under Jackson and have yet to make the playoffs. They won a combined 49 games the previous two seasons and brought a 3-6 record into Monday night’s game against the Mavericks.
One part of that plan has been incorporating his triangle offense into the team’s play. Jackson denied a report that he is upset with coach Jeff Hornacek for not deploying the triangle enough. When pressed on whether he thinks the triangle can be effective when today’s game has gone the “space and pace” route, it was clear that Jackson believes he is a bit of a maverick for sticking to his guns.
“It’s my feeling when everybody does the same damn thing, it becomes, ‘Who has the best Rolls-Royce? Who has the best, fastest stock car in this race we are running?’ ” he said. “So if you have LeBron, wow, we’re going to do the same thing even though we don’t have the Rolls-Royce? You have to be unique. You have to have something no one else is doing to have genius in this game. It becomes an ownership.
“I don’t care about the triangle. I care about systematically playing basketball.”
Jackson also shot down speculation that he will be leaving for the Lakers at the end of this season. Jackson has an opt-out clause in his contract and is the fiancé of Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ team president and part owner. Jackson indicated that he will remain with the Knicks.
Said Jackson: “I’m looking for this Knicks team to get back into a situation where they are competitive. Do I have to win a championship before I feel I’ve done the job I’ve been asked to do, which is to bring this group back to that competitive level? No, I don’t. We’re starting to make progress. I like a lot of the things we are doing here. But we’ve got more to do.”