Phil Jackson Has Officially Tarnished His Legacy

With eleven rings to his name as a coach, and two more as a player, the Zen Master’s legacy appeared to be untouchable. He’s on his way to changing that.

(Image via: ESPN)

On March 18th, 2014, Phil Jackson signed a five-year, $60 million contract to become the New York Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations.

There were questions about the hire — the dynamic between him and owner James Dolan, as well as the potential conflict of interest that was his relationship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss — but overall, the hire brought hope, despite Phil having no front office experience. And why wouldn’t you be hopeful? The man coached his team to a championship eleven times and has two more as player with the organization he was now in control of.

Fast forward to present day, and things could not be more different. The team has had little on-court success, the Knicks are consistently in the news for off-court reasons, and the one indisputable move he’s made during his tenure — drafting Kristaps Porzingis with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 draft — he’s now on track to negating.

This comment was in response to this week’s rumour that the Knicks were taking calls and open to trading Porzingis, which was, in turn, a response to word getting out that Porzingis was frustrated with the organization, a frustration that stemmed from Phil’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony and a frustration that culminated in Porzingis skipping the end-of-the-season exit meeting with Phil.

But here’s the thing: while skipping the exit meeting may not have been the best and most professional way to handle his frustrations, the complaints Porzingis has — that are shared my most Knicks fans — are all completely valid. I am no Carmelo Anthony die-hard, but the way Phil Jackson publically treated him was uncalled for and even more unprofessional than Porzingis skipping his exit meeting. Not to mention his stubborn insistence on jamming a square peg into a round — in this case, triangular — hole.

Granted, it doesn’t appear that Phil wants to get rid of Porzingis, he’s just open to trading away a player who doesn’t want to be there anymore. Rumours are that Phil has his eye on Kansas wing Josh Jackson and wants a high enough draft pick in a Porzingis trade to take him, but if the future is what you’re looking for, he’s already on your roster and his name is the Kristaps Porzingis, who is, by all means, a basketball unicorn.

In the world of conflict resolution, a positive feedback loop occurs when you respond to somebody raising their voice at you by raising your voice, too. You raising your voice inevitably leads to the other person raising their voice again, trapping the two of you in a cycle counterproductive to resolving the conflict. Phil Jackson, by responding the way he has to Porzingis, has placed the two of them in a positive feedback loop. As long as Phil and Porzingis continue this, don’t expect the situation to get any better.