During an appearance on The MMA Hour podcast, Thomas said he is going to think of what Jackson accomplished in his career before arriving in New York:
"There've been a lot of us who have come through New York that want to do well," Thomas said, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. "For whatever reason we didn't do well. I look at Phil before he got to New York—how he was respected in the game. And that's the Phil Jackson I choose to remember. That's on the real."
Thomas can relate to a lot of what went wrong for Jackson with the Knicks. He served as the team's president of basketball operations from 2003 to 2008 and head coach from 2006 to 2008.
The Knicks had a 56-108 record with Thomas as head coach and made just one playoff appearance in five seasons with him as president. The 56-year-old currently serves as team president for the WNBA's New York Liberty.
Jackson was hired as president of the Knicks in March 2014. Under his watch, the franchise posted a record of 80-166 and missed the playoffs each season.
In June, Jackson and the Knicks agreed to a mutual parting of ways two months after the team picked up the two-year option on his contract.
Jackson is widely regarded as one of the best head coaches in NBA history. He posted a 1,155-485 record in 20 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers and won 11 NBA championships in 13 appearances in the NBA Finals.