Mark Jackson is the best candidate for the New York Knicks head coach position. He was before the Knicks entertained Steve Kerr, and remains to be the top choice after Kerr’s acceptance of a five-year 25 million dollar salary to sit on Golden State’s sidelines.
Although he’s currently soaking up California sunshine, Mark Jackson’s roots began in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, the same school that gifted some of the strongest to ever represent New York. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, rapper The Notorious B.I.G., actor Doug E. Doug and NBA standout Lance Stephenson all attended Bishop Loughlin. Jackson stayed home for college and ran point for St. John’s, which led to him being drafted 18th in the first round of the 1987 NBA draft by none other than the New York Knicks.
Simply put Mark Jackson is a New Yorker, and while Phil Jackson‘s hiring was more of a PR attempt to mask the underlying issues that plague their franchise, it’s time to inject a dose of reality. In fact it’s overdue. The New York Knicks won’t get more genuine than adding Mark Jackson to the Madison Square Garden sideline.
Steve Kerr favors a west coast residence, and that was a big factor in his decision to turn down the Knicks head-coaching job. Well, that and James Dolan’s refusal to give him a five-year deal. Kerr wasn’t the right candidate for the Knicks, and don’t let Jackson’s amicable responses to his dismissal from Golden State fool you. Anyone would have a chip on his shoulder after being fired on the heels of such success.
In his second of three years in Northern California, Jackson led the Warriors to a 47-35 record, resulting in an unforgettable run to the second round of the 2012-2013 playoffs. This year they compiled a record of 51-31 before losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in first round. Perhaps Warriors management wasn’t aware that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even if it were, there’s a good chance it wasn’t on the backs of obscure young players like Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. Players that Jackson turned into household names and arena favorites… Players that he developed, giving room to blossom within the confines of a clearly defined system.
Although his dismissal was relatively quiet and visibly civil, there’s undoubtedly a bit of resentment on Jackson’s behalf. He’ll never lose the competitive fire that helped lead NBA squads in his 17 year professional career. A chip on his shoulder indeed, with a razor-sharp edge. It’s an edge he’ll bring to the Knicks, and it’s a quality they would be fortunate to gain.
The New York Knicks haven’t been New York’s team for quite a while. The organization hasn’t been able to exhibit any of the characteristics of the city in which they reside. New York is tough, full of clearly defined culture and rich tradition. The Knicks teams of the past decade have been nothing more than a sublet of a team that’s been waiting in the background, desperately chomping at the bit to get out and perform to expectations. Now is the time to bring in a coach who’s proud of his city, a leader who has a New York State of mind. It’s time for the Knicks to put a product on the floor that New Yorker’s can relate to.
The New York Knicks need Mark Jackson to replicate the same job he did for the Warriors. However the question remains as to if that’s the job Phil Jackson wants to have done. After losing Kerr to Golden State, Derek Fisher is now the lead candidate. Fisher would be the second person to transition from player to coach in one off-season, after Jason Kidd agreed to become the Brooklyn Nets head coach merely months after being an active player.
As reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Sherburne, other names mentioned in the Knicks search for a head coach have been Brian Shaw, Fred Hoiberg, Kurt Rambis, Jim Cleamons, Bill Cartwright and Frank Hamblen. None of which could have better influence on Carmelo Anthony than Mark Jackson, and after Phil Jackson asked Melo to take a pay-cut, taking a chance on a coach Melo isn’t completely enamored with is an open-invitation to say goodbye to the seven-time all-star.
New York needs Phil Jackson to exude his “zen” on the Knicks executive office, not play puppet master for 82-games. Knicks fans are tired of the front office smoke and mirrors. They’re deserving of a team they can identify with and claim as their own. Hopefully Phil Jackson will make a decision that compliments New York and not his legacy.