The upcoming NBA season for the New York Knicks is slated to be an intriguing one from a media and on the court perspective, with the “Zen Master” Phil Jackson running the show, and the recently retired Derek Fisher inserted as the new head coach.
If the Knicks are successful this season (successful meaning making the playoffs and winning a round or two), Phil Jackson will get all the credit.
People will look at his offseason moves, how he convinced Carmelo Anthony to sign on long term, how he traded Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, and two 2nd-round picks, and how he used one of those 2nd rounders to take Cleanthony Early who was a projected 1st round pick.
Jackson was able to rid of the Knicks of its biggest problem in Raymond Felton, a guy who was charged with gun possession, and had a reputation of being out of shape, as well as Tyson Chandler. Chandler missed 27 games last season, an injury that derailed the Knickerbockers.
Jackson admitted as much when he said his reasoning for trading Chandler was to “change some of the chemistry” with the Knicks.
If the Knicks win, Derek Fisher will be perceived as the puppet that properly executed Phil’s plan.
If the Knicks struggle for whatever reason, all the heat will fall on Fisher. The Knicks won’t struggle because of anything Phil Jackson did, it will all be because of everything Derek Fisher has done to mess it up.
The greatest reason for Jackson’s ability to avoid criticism is a result of all the championships he’s won in his career.
Jackson won two titles as a player with the Knicks (the Knicks haven’t won since), six with Michael Jordan’s Bulls, and five with Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. It would almost be disrespectful to criticize anyone with that type of track record.
Fair or unfair, that’s just the way it’s going to go, and as long as Phil’s the President of the Knicks, there’s nothing Derek Fisher can do about it.