Phil Jackson loves to compete, and he wants desperately to have the same kind of impact on a franchise that Pat Riley has had on the Miami Heat, taking it from a joke to the gold standard, like the Heat first built through major trades (Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal), nailed the one lottery pick it would have for a generation in Dwyane Wade, and then was disciplined enough to create the cap room necessary to bring in the SuperFriends.
Riles has the trifecta: rings as a player, coach and executive. Jackson only has the first two. Both role players on great teams, then great coaches on dynasties, accidental legendary coaches who got where they were through a series of fortunate occurrences.
But Riles went on to a third act. Phil had The Life, though, and men have broken almost all of the Ten Commandments in pursuit of The Life.
Yet he’s walking away from it to become the Knicks’ new president. He’ll be in charge of the basketball side of the organization, tasked to find a way to keep Carmelo Anthony in town and to make Anthony more of the kind of player Jackson has said publicly Anthony is not.
It is something Jackson’s wanted to do for years — put his stamp on a team, from top to bottom, hiring the coaches, developing the playing philosophy, making sure that everyone knows who’s running the show.
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