clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Remembering Glenn Frey's role in bringing Phil Jackson back to the Knicks

New, comments

Yes, a member of The Eagles help usher in a new phase in Knicks history. So what?

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Glenn Frey, guitarist and founder member of The Eagles, died Monday at the age of 67. He sold an unfathomable number of records in a musical career that spanned decades -- The Eagles' first greatest hits album ranks among the top-selling albums of all time -- and forever cemented his place in '80s lore with his work on the Miami Vice soundtrack.

I'm here to talk about none of this. For me, Glenn Frey's most important contribution has nothing to do with music. Please let my good friend Phil Jackson explain:

It's been nearly two years since the Zen Master took the job as president, and the Knicks have become such a relatively normal basketball franchise during that time that it's easy to forget the wild courtship which brought Phil back to MSG.

Glenn Frey might not have been the main facilitator in the negotiations -- that stuff was handled by Jackson's friend and The Eagles' longtime agent, Irving Azoff -- but he was present nearly every step of the way. He was at the party where Jackson and Knicks owner James Dolan first discussed the idea. One the most important meetings took place in Dallas, after an Eagles concert. He was a guest of honor at Phil's introductory press conference, having eaten with Dolan, Jackson and Azoff the night before:

On Monday night, shortly after he arrived in New York, Mr. Jackson joined Mr. Azoff, Mr. Dolan and Glenn Frey of the Eagles for dinner at Rotisserie Georgette, on East 60th Street in Manhattan. It was the night before the news conference, and they were still trying to keep their cover.

"We literally ate in the kitchen," Mr. Dolan said.

Many Knicks fans -- myself included -- mocked the absurdity of a famous rock musician so prominently featured in such an important moment in franchise history ... but, hey, whatever worked to get Phil in power, right?

But has Phil Jackson really done "the work of the Lord" since taking over. Why don't you ask the T-shirt?

I kind of doubt another Knicks president would have had the cachet (or the balls) to draft a skinny Latvian "project" at the end of such an embarrassing season. Even at the time, the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis seemed to be a turning point in recent franchise history, an abandonment of the traditional "screw long-term planning" credo. It would have been the right move even if Kristaps had come along slowly this season. The fact that Zingis Khan turned out to be an invincible basketball cyborg from Day 1 is just a bonus.

So that's how you get from the guy who played lead guitar on "Witchy Woman" to the return of the Zen Master, to the drafting of the greatest Knicks draft pick since Patrick Ewing. The whole process never made a great deal of sense, but it probably couldn't have happened any other way.

Rest in peace, Glenn Frey. We thank you.