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Highlights from Phil Jackson's salty-ass press conference

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He's still Phil.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at New York Knicks Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. For real. That light was the explosion from the bomb Phil Jackson dropped just before three o’clock this afternoon at a rare (49-minutes! That’s like a box set of Phil material) press conference.

The top being Carmelo Anthony, natch. Today was the day the Knicks publicly cut the cord with Anthony, though there’s still the small matter of actually trading him. Fresh off “one of our most disappointing” rounds of exit interviews, Phil gave the people their money’s worth and talked about virtually everything Knick fans care about. The highlights:

PHIL ON THE 31-51 SEASON

One of his biggest concerns from the year was “We did not have an identity.” This season “had a lot of hope,” but though the team “started descending around the holidays,” they “never quit during the last three months of the year...as a group, they felt like they...lost their way, their ability to win close games. But there weren’t a lot of fingers pointed.”

Jackson sounded bewildered by how much the Knicks were “competitive but...couldn’t win. It was a very unique situation, how many games this team lost in the last 2-3 minutes, last shots, even.”

“We didn’t have a really strong bench,” he said, adding there was no real “consistency of play” from the starters, which he blamed on injuries preventing them from building chemistry. This sounds strange coming from the man who traded for a point guard facing a rape trial during training camp.

PHIL ON WHAT’S NEXT

Phil’s not sweating any Melo-comments fallout.

“We’re looking forward to this as the beginning of our new season. A lot of things are going to happen between now and July.” Jackson said the Knicks are “looking forward” to having a draft pick. He also said they’ve identified 12 players they want to go forward with. While talking about the Knicks and Timberwolves having equal lottery odds Phil said “Our balls will be split in half” and I lost track of whatever came next exploding in preteen hysterics.

Phil seemed to contradict himself, sounding as if he’d evolved beyond our primitive human lust for trophies: “I didn’t come here to particularly just to win a championship, but to do things that were directed by my instructions from Dolan. Let’s have something that represents something. Let’s have something that is identifiable as who we are and how we play.” Later, he sounded like the dregs of sports radio: “There are 29 teams that feel like they failed. Everyone goes home unhappy. If you’re happy about losing in the finals, probably you get your head screwed on the wrong way.”

Where yo head at?

PHIL ON BEING PHIL

After quoting Red Holzman — “Basketball is not rocket science” — Phil was asked about the wisdom in emphasizing the Triangle when two years from now whoever’s in charge will surely scrap it. He started dissecting the the essence of the zeitgeist of the paradigm of the molecular level of the game within the game. This is a very Phil answer to give: they go specific, you go abstract.

There was, like, more than one instance of Phil saying “Does that make sense? OK. I’ll continue on from there” and shit. I don’t know if that means anything.

PHIL BLAMING PHIL

A line Phil said that you can tell he says to himself every morning he looks in the mirror: “I never took a jump shot. Never made a substitution. But the buck stops here.”

Also, not to bury the lede, but:

PHIL THE OPTIMIST

Jackson praised the “young guys” for playing hard, playing the right way, saying they “played defense hard”, though they were “missing a little bit of talent.” At one point it sounded like he said some of the younger players maybe wondered what was expected of them when the calls for tanking grew late in the season: “[W]e told them ‘We’re not tanking. We don’t do that.’” No shit.

PHIL ON CARMELO:

Counterpoint:

Curiously, Jackson mentioned the organization “...will take into account [Anthony’s] consideration” as they move on: “...this is not a situation where ‘We’re gonna dump you.’” Except Melo has a no-trade clause. So...thanks for not doing something you couldn’t even if you wanted to.

Josh Jackson, Phil Jackson’s heart beats for thee! Phil followed up “[Melo] is a player that would be better someplace else” with “We need players that are really actively, that can play every single play, defensively and offensively.”

Sounds like Phil wants to stay friends.

He has some hot and sour Zen for any of you contrarian thinkers out there.

Sounds like they’ve been thinking about breaking up for a while.

Doesn’t look to me like any trade is happening until after the draft.

PHIL ON KRISTAPS PORZINGIS:

Phil didn’t hesitate when asked if KP is ready to take the torch and lead this team: “No.” But he does see reasons for optimism, even if they’re reasons no one else bothers to look for.

PHIL ON DERRICK ROSE

Jackson added he was seemingly pleasantly “surprised” Rose enjoyed his time here despite all the losing. They’re not gonna re-sign him. Are they gonna re-sign him?

PHIL ON JEFF HORNACEK

“I let Jeff do what he wanted to do. We had an agreement that he would try to blend his what we call whatever that...flow/fastbreak/early shooting offense into something that was formatted. It could be end of game type stuff. Toward the end of the season, they started being able to do some of that.”

Jackson thinks Kurt Rambis bringing “all the knowledge I have” and Hornacek are a good combo. I think he meant Hornacek, but soon he was talking about “Derek,” so it’s possible he was reminiscing about thinking Rambis and Fisher were a good combo. Same difference.

Jackson defended Hornacek’s performance by pointing to difficulties with unnamed players. “There is some disconnect at times...And I think there is rebelliousness in this team that created some of the discord during the year. And I think that has to stop, and that will stop.”

PHIL-OSOPHY

“Losing is a tough situation.”

“I think fans have seen progress. It’s not in [the] won/loss column. But I think they’ve seen progress in...what we’re looking for and who we put in place to have a chance to play, and how they’re playing. I think that’s kind of evident, but it’s not evident in won/loss, that’s for sure. Because they can look at the won/loss record and say ‘Well, you know...not in the playoffs.’”

PHIL ON DEFENSE

Jackson made sure to point out the Knicks talk about defense like “90% of the time” while watching film, and talked about the “directional change in the league” citing by name Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Steph Curry and Isaiah Thomas and says this emerging direction is their emphasis on defense. Repeating the suggestion of personality issues, Jackson seemed to kinda obviously call out Noah and/or/Rose, unless I’m way off: “some of the guys came with preconceived ideas on how they wanted to play defense. But then physically they weren’t able to play defense in the format that they wanted to. That became kind of a push-and-pull between the coaches the players.” But it sounds like he kinda wants Rose back, so...I dunno.

This I thought was exciting:

I kinda keep hoping the Knicks end up with Markelle Fultz and the Knicks suddenly get young and athletic and are a high-energy pressing team.

PHIL ON SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD NINETEEN HUNDRED AND NINETY AND NINE

Jackson called out the ‘99 Bulls rebuilding strategy after winning their sixth title in eight years. He took the smuggest-ass pose and was like “How long’s it been now?”

I feel like every emotion after that press conference. If you’re a cerebral Frank Hardy Knick fan, after an interview like that you’re all like:

If you’re the go-with-your-gut Joe Hardy sort, you saw the look in Phil’s eyes and knew you’d seen it somewhere before.

Knicks gonna Knicks.