Ever since Phil Jackson took over as president of the Knicks, it’s made us question everything we thought we knew about his general basketball aptitude. He’s thrown his own hand-picked coach under the bus, awarded contracts to washed up Lakers retreads Sasha Vujacic and Lamar Odom, and stubbornly insisted that his team run the increasingly-obsolete Triangle Offense, despite disastrous results.
Now, he’s attempting to deflect the blame for the Knicks’ woes during his tenure onto the previous administration. Here’s what he said on The Big Podcast With Shaq, with a hat tip to USA Today for the text of that segment:
“We talked about, in our initial meeting [of camp], about the fact that this is all handpicked,” Jackson told O’Neal. “This is a handpicked team. They all fit together in a way in which — we haven’t had this opportunity since I’ve been in New York. A lot of it was we simply had players who were here because of the past administration. And this is the first time we had an opportunity to not only get players, but also have money to go out and solicit players off the free-agent market.”
Granted, Knicks management in the years prior to Jackson’s reign exhibited varying degrees of incompetence, but Jackson put his thumbprint on the franchise almost from the get-go, firing Mike Woodson and his staff and immediately and trading Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler for a bunch of spare parts.
Jackson only appears willing to take credit for the current roster because it features such high-profile names, and even that could end up backfiring spectacularly. Both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have battled multiple injuries in recent years, and Rose’s rape trial is quickly turning into a PR nightmare.
It also could be why Jackson is reportedly taking such a hand’s off approach with new coach Jeff Hornacek so far. He’s clearly tired of absorbing the blame for the team’s issues with the Triangle Offense the past few seasons, so he’s likely warming up to the idea of allowing Hornacek to succeed or fail of his own accord.