Phil Jackson is an unpredictable dude, particularly once he opens his mouth. It's not just that he has no filter; his thought patterns are legitimately difficult to follow at times, and he seems to enjoy surprising people. The Zen Master proved as much on February 8 when he fired head coach Derek Fisher seemingly without warning.
The period leading up to the Fisher firing was always going to be one of the more highly-anticipated sections of Charlie Rosen's "The Phil Jackson Chronicles." Phil has been notoriously blunt in his assessments in the past; what would he have to say about a team so dysfunctional that a mid-season coaching change was needed?
Part 4 picks up on January 29. The Knicks have lost for in a row, slipping four games below .500 at 22-26. Carmelo Anthony is nursing a knee injury. As you can imagine, Phil was ... effusive with his praise??? Dafuq?
"We finally feel like a team," [Phil] says. "We've learned how to format our offense — the spacing, the key passes, reading the defenses. There are inevitable lapses, but for the most part, it's all become routine. Now we're focusing on developing individual skills so we'll be able to freelance within the context of the triangle."
He understands it's still an ongoing process. "Of the 14 players suited up for tonight's game," he notes, "nine of them are new to the team this season. So the guys are still getting used to playing with each other."
Does that sound like a guy who will end up firing his coach 10 days later? Keep in mind, one of the excuses Phil gave for sacking Fisher was that he had been straying too often from the Triangle.Yet here he seems pretty damn content with the way the Triangle is being run. What gives?
Rosen also mentions that Phil was happy with the way the Knicks had been contesting three-pointers. I find that amusing, given that Fisher's replacement, Kurt Rambis, deliberately went away from that defensive scheme in favor of packing the paint and all but conceding the three. (Of all the dumb things Rambis did as coach, this was probably the dumbest.)
OK, so this is all pretty weird. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm actually looking forward to Rosen's next segment. Will we finally learn what exactly drove Fisher's dismissal? Stay tuned!