New York Knicks president Phil Jackson will take on a bigger role with Coach Derek Fisher and the New York Knickerbockers squad in the upcoming season. At the request of Fisher, the team is going to be having a more hands on approach with his head coach.
Jackson is entering the second full season of a five-year contract worth approximately $60 million. Speaking to the media on Friday for the team’s Media Day, the team president admitted that he may have distanced himself too much last season as the team struggled to win a franchise worse 17 games.
“I thought that maybe I stepped back too far last year. I wanted Derek to be his own person, have his own feel for this,” Jackson said. “I think that was multiplied in numbers of ways. Derek has asked me to be a little more present this year, actually. Not in the aspect of whatever, coaching, but just being around and coaching basketball and influential in observations. I think I’ll be probably more involved than I was last year in just being here and being watchful, suggestive, watching film together with Derek at times.”
Jackson, who has won an NBA-record 11 titles as coach of the Bulls and Lakers, will not be sitting on the bench alongside Fisher anytime soon. However, the New York coach is seeking more advice and input from the Zen Master as they both enter their second season with the Knickerbockers.
“I’m the head coach of the team. I’ll lead the team,” said Fisher, who was seated in between Jackson and GM Steve Mills at the press conference. “I’ll do what I need to do to get the job done. But for sure, I’m looking forward to spending more time away from the team, talking basketball, talking shop, learning from one of the great basketball minds that we’ve ever seen.
Jackson said he plans to watch more game video with Fisher and his staff.
“I just feel like it will be helpful to do more one-one-one discussion of specific things that are going on with our team, as opposed to knowing that he’s sitting on the other side of the building and has seen more basketball than I’ve seen in my entire lifetime and not utilizing that resource to help myself and help our team, ” Fisher said.
In what was a very revealing statement, Fisher admitted that he didn’t have much interaction with Jackson.
“We’re all in this together,” Fisher said. “I do think there were times last year that out of respect for each other’s titles as we learned how to operate from player/coach to president/head coach not wanting to bother each other or overload each other with too much information and conversation. Over the course of this offseason, we feel like we found a better rhythm.
Jackson indicated that most of his training time with Fisher will be done in the film room.
“A lot of the postgame, film work. That may be a situation where a coach may want to be together with his staff and talking about what we have to get done or what we didn’t get done,” Jackson said. “And I usually stick my nose in there for a couple minutes and say, ‘How’d that play go at the end of the third quarter that kind of got squelched, or didn’t work out, or what happened at the end of the game, was that a bad call? I didn’t really sit with Derek and the coaching staff and look at a game from the beginning until the end. That’s been my protocol as a coach. I’m not going to say that I’m going to do that all the time but there will be times that we do that because Derek has kind of insinuated to me over the summer that it’d be nice to have a little bit of that conversation this year. So we’ll see, we’ll see how it goes. But I think that’s probably where I stepped back farther than any other place last year, allowing the staff to work on its own.”
The Knicks won a franchise-low 17 games last season, Jackson’s first full year as team president and Fisher’s first as an NBA head coach. During last year’s Media Day, Jackson and Fisher predicted that New York would be a playoff team. Both declined to make any predictions or place any expectations for this season.
“I want to stay away from expectations. It’s such a long season,” Jackson said. “We want to talk about competitiveness, about home court advantage.”
“Last year we tried to predict in a sense how a team would do over a course of a long NBA season,” Fisher said, “and it really is impossible to do that. We couldn’t have foreseen the amount of injuries and changes that took place with our team. I think right now it is more about the process and focusing on building the daily habits that are required to be a really good team … that is all we can do.