Every time Phil Jackson leaves the game he finds a way to stay in it.
This time around is no different.
But should we really be alarmed at Jackson’s recent comments regarding his coaching comeback and the "clumsy" New York Knicks roster that will air next Tuesday on HBO’s “Real Sports”?
This is after all Phil Jackson we are talking about.
And it’s not like he’s saying anything avid NBA fans around the league haven’t already said themselves regarding the Knicks. The catch here is Jackson explaining how he wouldn’t be interested in the New York gig, a city he has deep affection for dating back to his playing career in the 70’s with the Knickerbockers.
It’s also a franchise he was rumored to run toward once his days coaching the Los Angeles Lakers came to and end.
"I wasn't going to take the job, that's for sure," Jackson said in the interview.
"There's just too much work that has to be done with that team. It's a little bit of a clumsy team.”
When Jackson says “team” he’s mostly referring to Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, two major and highly priced pieces of New York’s puzzle the Zen Master doesn’t see fitting together in the slightest shape or form.
"They don't fit together well. Stoudemire doesn't fit together well with Carmelo. Stoudemire's a really good player. But he's got to play in a certain system and a way. Carmelo has to be a better passer. And the ball can't stop every time it hits his hands. They need to have someone come in that can kind of blend that group together."
Jackson -- who won 11 NBA titles as a coach between Chicago and Los Angeles -- said the Knicks never reached out to even entertain discussions about the head coaching position in New York. And if they did, Jackson basically stubbornly suggests he wouldn’t have picked up the phone anyway.
"If they called," Jackson said, "it would open the door and they didn't want to open the door."
Of course he says that now. Had the Knicks reached out, chances are he might not have answered the call but his agent certainly would have heard Knicks owner James Dolan out. But there is probably good reason why Dolan didn’t target Jackson, particularly now knowing Stoudemire and Anthony would be the first two guys Jackson might want to wheel and deal. And with Dolan a big advocate of the Anthony-to-New York deal, you can image Dolan and Jackson clashing early and often.
Instead, the job belongs to Mike Woodson and once again Jackson keeps the NBA wondering where rumors will surface next regarding his return.
It was nearly the Orlando Magic according to report.
Two weeks ago, Jackson decided against pursuing a team president role with Orlando despite showing some brief interest in a position within the team's front office which was apparently orchestrated by former Charlotte Bobcats head coach and Jackson protégé’, Sam Vincent.
In this Magic scenario, Jackson would have assumed the role of team president/general manager or be compensated in a consulting role that Magic CEO Alex Martins seriously considered.
The 66-year-old Jackson is apparently feeling great after dealing with a number of health issues the past several years – troubles with his back, a heart condition in 2003, knee replacement, and two hip replacements. This only fuels the fire that, what once prevented Jackson from continuing to coach has now become one less concern and obstacle he’ll have to overcome as he considers his next NBA move.
It certainly won’t be the Knicks or even the Magic.
But know this: we haven’t seen or heard the last of Phil Jackson.
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