New York Knicks: Triangle philosophy contributed to Phil Jackson’s demise

Phil Jackson’s three-year tenure as president of basketball operations with the New York Knicks ended uncerimoniously. The team’s owner, James Dolan, said problems with the triangle offense contributed to this.

18 months ago, in June 2017, Phil Jackson was relieved of his duties as president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks. It ended after three years, with four head coaches, a handful of trades that did not work out (Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks) and controversy with Kristaps Porzingis.

With Derek Fisher‘s hiring as head coach, Jackson installed the triangle offense. It never worked perfectly, and the Knicks never had a winning season in this system.

Jackson won 11 titles, running the triangle, with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. He had superstars buy into it, but, with the Knicks, his inability to garner support contributed to his firing, according to owner James Dolan in an interview with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor (h/t The New York Post):

“I think it was much more about this triangle thing. It was much more about his philosophy, that he couldn’t get the group to buy into it. And I think he got yessed a lot. I think they’d be underneath their breath going, ‘This is not a great idea,’ and he got into conflict with some players over it. But I think he tried hard to get his system in. I just don’t think he ever got it in.”

Dolan discussed his desire to stay out of Jackson’s way, which he did. That changed when he had to make the decision, that “it clearly wasn’t working.” The 63-year-old, who also owns the New York Rangers and New York Liberty, said Jackson knew this, too, but hoped for a longer run.

Jackson’s three-year run with the Knicks contrasted to his time as a head coach, when he led Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and others to the promised land.

Instead, the “Zen Master” received criticism for his work as a front-office leader, including a public spat with Carmelo Anthony; they worked out a long-term deal together in 2014, only for Jackson to air their messy relationship through the media.

There were the aforementioned Porzingis trade talks, as well, per Adrian Wojnarowski, formerly of The Vertical. Since the Latvian forward skipped an exit meeting, Jackson shopped him around the draft.

Before that could happen, Dolan relieved Jackson of his duties, ending an infamous era in Knicks history.

The 73-year-old, now in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, still has a decorated legacy in basketball. It’s difficult to question what he did from 1991-2010, but those three years with the New York Knicks, they will not sit at the forefront of his career accolades.