Phil Jackson Proving His Worth as Melo Returns to Knicks

Gary PhillipsContributor IIFebruary 27, 2017

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts after hitting a 3-point shot against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, in New York.  Dallas won 110-108. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

Carmelo Anthony believes in Phil Jackson.

That was the quote that floated around Wednesday when Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that, "barring a last-second change of heart," Anthony would return to the New York Knicks. On Saturday, to the joy of Knicks fans everywhere, the superstar announced that his heart had not wavered.

That is rightafter months of rumors and speculation, Carmelo Anthony will remain with the New York Knicks. Anthony will sign a slightly less than max contract of five years and $120 million, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The 'Bockers had plenty of competition when it came to retaining Melo's services. The Chicago Bulls offered him a chance to play on a ready-made contender alongside Derrick Rose. The Houston Rockets dissed one of their own players in an attempt to appease Anthony. The Los Angeles Lakers had a max deal on the table as well along with the lure of Hollywood and an illustrious franchise history.

Rumor had it good friend LeBron James was even trying to arrange for the Miami Heat to clear way for the superscorer before The King himself returned home to Cleveland. But in the end, Anthony decided New York, his home, was where he belonged.

Obviously, the fact that the Knicks could offer Anthony more money than any other team played a factor here. However, there is another aspect to his return that can not be ignored, and that is Phil Jackson.

In just a few short months, the Zen Master has made quite the impression in New York. After a miserable season that saw the Knicks win just 37 games in 2013-14, Jackson has made a series of moves that will hopefully begin the renaissance of the Knicks. 

Jackson's first major move at the helm of the Knicks was to bring in five-time NBA champion and long-time Jackson disciple Derek Fisher to take over as head coach. He then traded the declining Tyson Chandler and deficient Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, promising guard Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and two second-round draft picks.

Jackson then used one of those picks to make what could be the steal of the draft, selecting Wichita State's Cleanthony Early with the 34th overall pick.

While there is still plenty to be done, Jackson has shown with these moves that he is committed to installing the same winning culture in New York that he implemented as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers on his way to 11 titles (not counting the two he won as a player with New York).

In very little time, Jackson has made a very big difference. Smart moves are being made. Owner James Dolan is minding his own business. Not a single game has been played since last year's disastrous campaign, yet Jackson has Knicks fans thinking positively... and that was before Melo announced he was coming back.

Richard Drew/Associated Press

It is this difference, or mindset, or aura, or whatever you want to call what Phil Jackson brings to the table that helped convince Anthony to stay in New York. Jackson laid out a plan, a plan for the future and a plan to win, and Melo bought in.

And so have Knicks fans.

Jackson has given life to an organization that was breathing its last breaths when he took over as team president after he signed a five-year, $60 million contract in March. Now, in just a matter of months, he has given the city, its fans and his players, most notably Carmelo Anthony, justification to believe in this team.

There is still a ton of progress to be made before a championship banner is hung from the rafters in Madison Square Garden, but Jackson has earned every penny so far, as there is truly a reason to have faith in the New York Knicks.


Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Knicks basketball and the NBA.