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Mazurek: Give Jackson, Knicks a chance

| Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It did not take a public feud, a racist comment or a Cosby-esque scandal to diminish Phil Jackson. Instead, all it took were the words, “With the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA draft, the New York Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis.”

Since NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s announcement on draft day, Jackson has been under intense fire from the New York media decrying the selection of Porzingis and Jackson’s inability to attract free agents to New York.

Jackson became the president of the Knicks organization in March 2014 and was understandably hailed as a savior. This is the guy who coached Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to championships. Just let him be, and it will all work out.

Except it hasn’t.

As it stands, the Knicks are no closer to their first NBA championship in 42 years than they were when Jackson took over as president. Jackson has failed to win over Carmelo Anthony and has not come close to attracting any notable free agents (sorry Robin Lopez). Sought after forward, Greg Monroe, even choose to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks over the Knicks. I repeat, Phil Jackson and the Knicks are less attractive to free agents than Milwaukee.

Jackson can’t even lose games correctly. If the Knicks had lost one more game during the 2014-2015 season, they would have ended up with the worst record — and the best chance of getting the first overall pick. Instead they ended up with the fourth pick and Kristaps Porzingis.

The whole Jackson drama is truly incredible. How often do you hear a home crowd booing a 13-time NBA champion? It just doesn’t happen. Except in New York.

Is Jackson really that far over the hill? Probably not. He has only been in New York for one season, and he wasn’t given much to work with. And yet, the New York media is eating him alive.

This frenzy is particularly puzzling if one drives down Interstate 95 and looks at the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 76ers have been just as awful as the Knicks in the last few years. From 2013 to 2015, they had a lottery pick in the draft, yet, none of those picks will be playing for them this year. That certainly seems like cause for a good tar and feathering of general manager Sam Hinkie, but Philadelphia fans have remained relatively calm.

The reason? Hinkie has a plan. Or at least he says he does. If you consider intentionally being bad for multiple years in a row a plan. However, even this semblance of control is something Jackson lacks in New York.

But Jackson’s aura keeps him standing on thin ice in the Big Apple. Jackson is a proven winner and as such, expectations were immediately through the roof. Never mind that his best player was a gimpy Carmelo Anthony, and his head coach, Derek Fisher, was in his first year.

While the media should not have written Jackson off, it is professional sports — and New York — so Jackson should have known what he was getting into. I’m not saying he’s definitely going to bring a title to New York but at least give him one more year.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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