Maybe Phil Jackson is feeling a little bitter about not being one of three coaches to win Coach of the Year honors three times (a distinction that now belongs to Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley and Don Nelson).
Maybe he just can't pass up the opportunity to dredge up an old rivalry.
When discussing the possibility of Carmelo Anthony accepting a reduced salary, Jackson invoked Tim Duncan as a point of comparison. Then, almost parenthetically, he made clear that he doesn't consider the San Antonio Spurs a dynasty, according to Newsday's Al Iannazzone:
Tim Duncan making the salary he's making after being part of a dynasty—not a dynasty, I wouldn't call San Antonio a dynasty—a force, a great force. They haven't been able to win consecutive championships but they've always been there. San Antonio has had a wonderful run through Tim's tenure there as a player. He's agreed to take a salary cut so other players can play with him so they can be this good. And that's the beginning of team play.
Let the debate begin. Are the Spurs a dynasty or merely a "great force" (whatever that means)? The franchise is an intriguing case study precisely because it seems to problematize our definitions of a dynasty.
On the one hand, Jackson is certainly correct that San Antonio hasn't won consecutive titles. On the other hand, it's won four championships (all during the Tim Duncan era) and competed for a fifth in a classic NBA Finals a season ago.
The team's regular-season accomplishments are also remarkable, year in and year out. If you add up the playoff appearances and longevity, it's hard to argue the Spurs are something less than dynastic—even if they don't quite feel like a traditional dynasty either.
Regardless of Jackson's stake in the whole conversation, it's an interesting discussion to be had.
As for Jackson's part in it, well, he seems to have always had a little something against the Spurs. According to Project Spurs' Jeff Garcia:
[Jackson] has never been one to shy from taking verbal jabs at the San Antonio Spurs. Ever since he’s been in the league (and especially when he was with the Lakers during the Spurs-Laker rivalry) he has called the Spurs out for having a asterisk title in 1999, and even gone far to say the Spurs have a 'Brokeback Mountain' style of play.
If San Antonio wins a fifth title while Duncan's still around, it will become harder to deny it as a dynasty—even if it never wins back-to-back championships. The Spurs are setting out to accomplish just that after claiming the league's best regular-season record.
The Knicks, meanwhile, have a ways to go before being considered a playoff team, much less a dynasty. Wins or no wins, Jackson will be paid $12 million a season to remodel the organization from the ground up.
Jackson's Bulls and Lakers were both considered dynasties by any metric. Between the two teams, he claimed 11 titles.
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