For the first time in his non-playing career, Phil Jackson is taking a risk. Every report this side of Antarctica says the zen-master is headed to the New York Knicks as team president and a ‘major announcement’ has been called by the organization for Tuesday morning.
I say that Jackson is taking a risk because during his tenure as a head coach in the National Basketball Association he has been fortunate enough to coach two teams that were both loaded with talent. He stepped into the head coaching position with the Chicago Bulls when the team was just coming into its own.
Six titles later and a Michael Jordan retirement saw him head to Los Angeles where the Lakers were Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were in their primes. Five titles later, retirement for Phil Jackson looked pretty darn good. Now, Jackson is entering a situation where there is no savior waiting in the wings. Carmelo Anthony is the only player the Knicks have worth a darn and may not even be there as free agency looms this offseason.
At 68 years old, can Jackson handle the rigors of rebuilding an organization that has fallen on the worst of times? Should he be able to get this team into the playoffs within two to three years then he shall have succeeded in some circles. Status quo or worse will tarnish his legacy whether he believes it or not.
NCAA Tourney Field Wide-Open
A month ago, Syracuse seemed destined to get to the Final Four and possibly the championship game as they cruised to an unbeaten start. Since they finally lost at Boston College, it’s been a train wreck to put it lightly. The Orange were bounced from their first-ever ACC Tournament appearance by NC State yesterday 66-63. It was the Orange’s fifth loss in their last seven games.
Syracuse wasn’t the only team though across the country to get beaten earlier than expected in their conference tournaments. Kansas was beaten by Iowa State who all of the sudden looks like a team that could make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Big Ten Champ Michigan escaped Illinois with a one-point win while #15 North Carolina was beaten by new ACC member Pitt 80-75.
#18 St. Louis also took it on the chin losing to St. Bonaventure and #13 Cincinnati lost to #21 UConn 58-56. All of this really shouldn’t be that surprising. Conference tournaments have often been the scene of big upsets ahead of the big dance but with every passing year these events seem to get more and more common.
Wichita State has so far held up their end of the bargain by finishing unbeaten and with a conference tournament title in hand. The Shockers will get a number one seed but they are no means a lock to roll into the Final Four.
Bottom line? You better do your homework when filling out your brackets this year because anything is possible.
Nash Speaks the Truth
We have to credit Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Steve Nash for being honest. In the sports’ world, fans often cry that players only take deals in certain locations because of the money but rarely ever admit that’s the reason.
Don’t worry about Steve Nash in this regard. The often-injured former NBA MVP flat out said he is coming back next year because he wants to collect his $10 million pay check. If you’re a Lakers’ fan, you probably aren’t thrilled with this. You’d rather he just retired so the team can move on and rebuild. For the rest of us, it was rather refreshing to hear a guy finally say, “It’s about the money.”