On Ignorance, The Triangle, and Narrative Pitfalls

Hello. I have come here to admit some faults, and express some feelings. I also would like to say go Knicks. Go Knicks.

When Phil Jackson arrived as the President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks, I will admit, I have been more than skeptical. Phil Jackson represents a real conundrum for the NBA world. He is beloved by three fan bases for winning titles there, he is loved by those who like challenging the conventional norms, and he is hated by traditionalists in the NBA. He is a brilliant coach, and by all accounts has a bit of an ego to go with it. Remember this?

Phil Jackson has never been a GM. I'm sure this has been reiterated many times here, and will probably get reiterated again. It's a valid concern, and one that should produce dialogue. Everyone here wants what is best for the team, and thinking critically on the team in the offseason is a past time as old as sports it seems. While dialogue is great, the potential to fall into narrative pitfalls is something that everyone is guilty of: and in the past week I've realized I've done just that.

I've turned into a triangle bashing person because I am afraid of it. There I said it. I am afraid everything is going to fail, thus I have stated my anger for this "system" and used cheap flimsy excuses to hide my fear. I also knew relatively little about the offensive "system," but did know it made a great appearance in teaching geometry in "Like Mike." Get your knowledge. So let's go through them and make some conclusions.

1. The Triangle is an Outdated System

Yeah, no. The triangle hasn't been used in the NBA outside of Phil Jackson's sphere in his purest form, not because it's an outdated system, because it's a very complicated system. In fact looking into it the Spurs and Blazers use a lot of elements from the triangle, but not the system in is purest form. Very few coaches have been able to run the triangle as a system for long periods of time, they are Sam Barry at Kansas, Tex Winter as an assistant in the NBA, and Phil Jackson as a head coach in the NBA. It takes a very special person to run the triangle. The good news is Sam Barry pioneered it, Tex Winter learned from Barry, and Phil Jackson learned from Winter. Hopefully whoever Jackson hires is cerebral enough to pick up this from Jackson.

2. The Triangle Only worked because of MJ, Pippen, Kobe, and Shaq

The triangle in itself is known as the triple post offense. To run it I feel you need a center with a great post game, a forward who can play the win, and a guard that facilitates ball movement, and has a very high basketball IQ. Besides that, you then have two players who fill various positions on the court depending on one of the many, many, many sets the triangle runs facilitating ball movement. It has been said that role players get elevated due to the triangle's effectiveness, where guys fit into the system and the system takes over allowing them to be one step ahead of defenders who are not exactly sure, which set is coming. Now, here's the problem. We don't know how the triangle in its purest form will work without those four players because it's never been done. So maybe this excuse isn't the best to use because...

3. We don't know what the team is going to look like and everyone will be gone in 2015

The triangle is incredibly complex. (I could say its not and apply the first part of that Like Mike clip by having JR smith play the role of Pippen (a guard who can isolate and score despite everyone on earth's misgivings for him), Melo in Jordan's spot playing a forward on the wing who can post up, and Tyson being your center in the post working with Hakeem in the offseason to pick up a post move and oh my god this could work, calm down get back on track) In the piece Chuck Klosterman wrote for Grantland on the Triangle, and unnamed coach said there are upwards of 30+ sets in the offense, that the ball movement facilitates. That means that it will take time for players to adapt to this "system" and that can't happen when everyone is leaving after next year. How the Knicks respond will be part of Jackson's legacy. Speaking of...

4. This whole pet project is a test case for Jackson's Legacy

As much as it is hard to admit, this is Phil's only shot at making the triangle a lasting part of the NBA. All the misgivings people have about the offense come into play because it's never been done outside of him. It takes a special coach to run this complex set and deal with the egos you have to keep in check. Phil Jackson is a strong man authoritarian coach who has dealt with MJ, Shaq, Kobe, etc and came out on top. Phil Jackson always wins. The triangle though hasn't won. It hasn't been used. Phil Jackson has no coaching tree. In this regard he has not won. This is his test case. This is his pet project. There is no room for error, there is a sense of urgency here that this HAS to work for Jackson. But what if it doesn't? What if we learn that the triangle works, but it doesn't work as well without Jackson or a cast of some hall of famers leading the charge? These are valid questions. The triangle seems to be a great system. That is something to get excited about. But know this, Phil Jackson isn't coming here to "save the Knicks" and clean out its toxic environment, Phil Jackson is coming here for himself and cement his legacy as THE basketball genius. Phil Jackson thinks he is the smartest man in the room and needs to let everyone know it. The Knicks are the way he can do it on the biggest stage, in the biggest market, with the most exposure. His hirings are going to be his guys, and like it or not, they haven't had success in the past. And with that I see this tweet:

Welp, here we go. Giddy up.

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