I have a friend who doesn't follow sports and recently asked me why I'm "so obsessed with this Mee-low guy." He was referring to Carmelo Anthony, aka Melo, who I seem to talk about more than my children or our dog. Despite my blog and Twitter attacks on Melo and the Knicks, I've bled orange and blue for 45 years and I want to see the Knicks succeed, hence the following reconsideration.
This past season the Knicks were the model of disharmony, with a lack of talent at key positions as well as injuries to star players negating any possibility of a winning record. The team's offense was a series of isolation sets for Carmelo Anthony that were about as exciting to watch as Lois Lerner taking the fifth. Coach Mike Woodson lost control of the team, and dissent -- rather than any one person -- ruled the Knicks.
Enter Phil Jackson. I was skeptical that James Dolan would turn over control to him, but so far Jackson seems to have complete autonomy and I'm pleased with the moves he's made. More than simply being a great coach, Phil Jackson is the consummate manager of people, delegating responsibilities to coaches while the managing egos and personalities of narcissistic NBA players. Tex Winter installed the triangle offense in Chicago, but Jackson was responsible for Michael Jordan accepting the system as well as his teammates. For those who wish to dismiss the importance of such abilities, consider coaches like Rick Pitino and John Calipari, who have high basketball IQ's, but lack the skills to manage NBA egos.
Carmelo Anthony has achieved great individual success but has yet to win an NBA championship, while Jackson has more rings than his fingers can hold. I am a neurotic, handwringing New Yorker and Phil Jackson is a Zen Master. He will continue to move forward on his mission to bring a championship to New York, with or without Melo and whatever the outcome, he probably won't lose any sleep.
For Phil Jackson, it's business as usual.