Phil Jackson Rumors
Thanks in large part to Jerry Krause, Jackson understands, because Jackson was about to become a labor statistic in 1987. Jackson applied for unemployment, out of coaching, out of work, considering a return to school, perhaps private business. He wasn’t sure anymore. Hopes and expectations had become an anchor for his nascent coaching career. Jerry Krause threw him the lifesaver that buoyed a special cruise through the NBA record books. Krause knew. After all, typical of the late Bulls general manager, Krause had been taking notes on Jackson for the previous 20 years. That intense study and innate willingness to think and act creatively were premier characteristics of Krause that led, inevitably, to enshrinement in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Krause, who died March 21, will be enshrined posthumously Friday in the Class of 2017, which includes Tracy McGrady, George McGinnis, Bill Self, Muffet McGraw and Rebecca Lobo. Krause’s legacy, in addition to six championships with the Bulls in the 1990s, was the hiring of coaches who went on to legendary careers, including Jackson, Doug Collins and Tex Winter. Krause renewed Winter’s stalled college coaching career and Winter went on to be honored by the Hall of Fame for his influence with the triple post offense. Collins went on to be a premier NBA coach and honored by the Hall of Fame’s media wing. The Bulls under Krause had arguably the most accomplished coaching staff in NBA history with Jackson, Winter and Johnny Bach, the latter an NBA player, head coach, assistant, college coach and defensive guru.
Krause was secretive, perhaps to an abnormal extreme. But among the staff he was open and willing to encourage dialogue, suggesting a more confident and secure mien than many often believed. And he reveled in his iconoclastic methods. “Jerry was ‘the Sleuth,’ his moniker, his slouch hat and raincoat,” said Jackson. “He kind of enjoyed that. Might not ask for a ticket. He’d buy a ticket and slide into a field house, maybe watch a practice, maybe have an agreement with a coach to watch practice, but not to be seen by the other scouts, unobtrusively sit in the stands, fill out his cards and make his notes. He had favorites; he fell in love with players. A lot he couldn’t reach in the draft or to get. But I didn’t see him make a lot of mistakes on guys he fell in love with.
Chris Broussard: “The one thing that’s unfortunate when it comes to LeBron’s career is [he hasn’t had a great coach]. I think that hurts him in the G.O.A.T. conversation and I’m on record as saying he’s the second-best player of all-time behind Michael Jordan. But if you look at a lot of the greats, the one thing they have in common is they had a great coach. Jordan played for Phil Jackson. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson had Pat Riley. Tim Duncan had Gregg Popovich. Kobe Bryant has Phil Jackson. LeBron – with all due respect to Erik Spoelstra, Ty Lue and Mike Brown, who are all good coaches – has never had that iconic coach, that legendary coach who could’ve fully coached him and [gotten the most out of him].
Thomas, also a former Knicks president who had a similarly inept stint, has resurfaced as Liberty president. The Garden’s WNBA tenant clinched their third straight playoff berth this week under Thomas. “There’ve been a lot of us who have come through New York that want to do well,’’ Thomas said in Las Vegas for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor bout and appearing on The MMA Hour radio show. “For whatever reason we didn’t do well. I look at Phil before he got to New York – how he was respected in the game. And that’s the Phil Jackson I choose to remember. That’s on the real.”
“It’s tough, man, because I got a lot of love and respect for Phil,’’ Noah said. “He gave me an opportunity to play back home. Somebody I read all his books as a kid. I was just a big fan and still am. I have a lot of respect for him. It didn’t work out. That sucks. It’s something I have to live with. He believed in me, and I kind of let him down. That’s frustrating. He got a lot of blame that it was his fault. But we didn’t lose all those games because of Phil Jackson.’’