A day after firing longtime friend Derek Fisher as New York Knicks head coach, team president Phil Jackson released a statement Tuesday saying he was "sad" about the move but "not discouraged" about the state of the franchise:
I am sad about D-Fish. However, I'm not discouraged. Here is some things pundits should know before assuming 'next'. pic.twitter.com/cFnA8TQAhx— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 9, 2016
The statement, which touches on Jackson's philosophy on basketball and leadership, seems to indicate he was unhappy with the manner with which Fisher led his team:
The style of leadership I've been put in a box with is: transformational as juxtaposed to transactional. This style of leadership has more to do with the group goals and the esteem of an individual fed by the group achievements. It involves moving the organization or culture of a group towards a higher nature. Transactional management style is surely effective, but doesn't match my personal nature.
Jackson went on to say that particular philosophy might be a "clue" as to whom he'll target for the next Knicks leader. Fisher, 41, went 40-96 in a season-and-a-half in New York. Hired directly after his retirement from playing, Fisher weathered the storm of a 17-65 campaign in 2014-15 and seemed to have the Knicks on an upward trajectory before a recent downturn.
New York has lost its last five games and nine of its last 10, a string that led to Fisher's dismissal. Kurt Rambis, a longtime Jackson confidant who served as a lead assistant under Fisher, has taken over as interim coach. Rambis has spent part of three seasons as an NBA head coach, most recently with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
His tenure in Minnesota drew almost universally negative reviews. The Timberwolves went 32-132, with Rambis making a number of puzzling personnel and strategic decisions. HBO's Bill Simmons recalled Rambis giving more minutes to NBA journeyman Ryan Gomes than to burgeoning star Kevin Love in 2009-10, and respected basketball gambler Haralabos Voulgaris offered his frank thoughts:
Kurt Rambis in Minnesota was the worst head coach I've ever seen. True story.— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) February 8, 2016
What's clear at this point is Jackson is married to the triangle philosophy. He's continually referenced the offensive system since taking the Knicks job, despite all the evidence in the world it runs contrary to what works in today's game.
Whoever winds up being the long-term fit in New York—Rambis, Tom Thibodeau, Luke Walton, etc.—will have to find a way to modernize the system while also preaching Jacksonian principles.
It almost makes one wonder why Jackson doesn't take a trip down to the bench and coach the team himself.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter