NYDN – Phil Jackson’s formidable task of rebuilding the Knicks and establishing a professional, winning culture at Madison Square Garden has already hit a familiar roadblock: James Dolan. Just one month into his role as Knicks president, Jackson has already clashed with Dolan, the chairman of Madison Square Garden, over personnel decisions, the Daily News has learned. According to a team source, Jackson is looking to remove several staff members, which is commonplace when a new administration takes over, but Dolan opposes removing certain employees. According to the source, Dolan’s reaction to Jackson’s request was to tell the 11-time NBA championship coach to simply focus his attention on building a winning team. To say that “minor friction,” as one Garden source called it, can be classified as Jackson’s honeymoon with Dolan being over may be stretching it a bit. But at the very least it proves that Dolan — surprise, surprise wasn’t being entirely truthful last month when he claimed he was “willingly and gratefully” giving up control of the basketball decisions to Jackson, the Hall of Fame coach. “In his role as president Phil will be in charge of all basketball decisions,” Dolan said after signing Jackson to a five-year, $60 million contract. Dolan made Jackson the richest executive in North American team sports history in part for his championship pedigree. And yet, Dolan is interfering with Jackson’s sincere effort to change the toxic culture of an organization that has won one playoff series in 14 years. It is unclear which employees Jackson wants to remove, but with the entire coaching staff fired on Monday, it is most likely personnel with the medical staff, front office and/or the media relations staff. Bleacher Report reported that Steve Mills, Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien could all be reassigned or possibly dismissed.
When Phil Jackson came to the Knicks, we all got excited. There was really only one name that carried enough weight to think he could turn the franchise around, and that was the Zen Master. But every Knicks fan knew that excitement came with one major caveat – Dolan had to shut the fuck up. Dolan had to stay out of the way and let Phil Jackson take complete control of this team. Everyone thought if there was one guy who could get James Dolan to take a backseat, it would be Phil Jackson. Still, it was a big time “I’ll believe it when I see it” sort of feeling.
Then they had their press conference. And James Dolan said absolutely everything he needed to say. For the first time literally ever, James Dolan sounded like a likable, competent owner and more or less promised to stay out of Phil Jackson’s affairs and let him run the show. That apparently has lasted all of like 2 weeks. I don’t know why I ever even entertained the thought of believe James Dolan. Why I ever thought he would actually stay out of the decision making process. I think I thought to myself “Not even James Dolan would pay someone 60 million dollars and interfere with them.” But that was dumb of me. Because that’s exactly something James Dolan would do. Be reckless with his money and meddlesome with his employees. Thats what he does best. Of course he’s doing it again.
And the funniest thing of all is this is like the most basic part of a new GM coming in. You clean house and bring in your own regime. From coaching to front office positions, your new president of basketball operations needs to install the guys he thinks are gonna do the best job. Herb Williams – God love him – is not going to be a part of Phil Jackson’s Knicks. Steve Mills is no longer needed if Phil is at the helm. Allan Houston – whatever the fuck it is he does – is no longer needed. This is as basic as it fucking gets and Dolan can’t help himself.
So now we’re back to square 1. Phil Jackson will probably bail after about 2 years because Dolan won’t shut the fuck up and this franchise will always suck until ownership changes. Feels good to be back. I didn’t like the uncertainty and possibility of success.