Nothin’ but Net: Good for you, Phil

Philadelphia, PA ( – Overreaction can be ugly.

Overreacting makes the one who overreacts look petty and unable to take the

I hate overreactions.

So why did Phil Jackson’s borderline overreaction to comments by Commissioner
Adam Silver strike me as a noble crusade?

Let’s start from the beginning. Silver said this about the New York Knicks:

“Clearly, they’re still learning the triangle,” Silver said. “I still don’t
understand it, but they’re learning it. But that’s what the game is all about.
You have a new coach, you have a new president of basketball operations in
Phil Jackson; you have a couple new players on the team.”

By all accounts, Silver said this whimsically and should not be confused with
astute analysis.

Jackson responded: “I wasn’t so humored by the commissioner actually jumping
in on top of that, too,” he said. “He doesn’t need to get in on that. There’s
enough focus on triangle. It’s not anything. It’s a system. It’s simple
basketball. Just play the game. We’re over the triangle; let’s get to business
and play the right way.”

Silver’s comments needed no response, but Jackson’s message was clear:

The Knicks are playing very poorly. A simple check of some factual information
makes that clear without the interpretation of the commissioner.

The Knickerbockers have dropped five straight, including a home-and-home
series with the very average Atlanta Hawks. This swoon has sent them to 2-6,
which is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division.

Thank the grace of God for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Knicks have not scored over 100 points one time this season. They rank
30th in scoring in the league at 91.1 ppg. Any literate person can see that
the Knicks’ offense, the vaunted triangle, is not working well.

Carmelo Anthony, the game’s second-best natural scorer, has been neutered to
some degree. He is averaging 20.3 ppg, which is 17th in the NBA. Anthony
hasn’t averaged so few points for a season in 10 years.

Melo is also shooting 39 percent from the field, which would be his lowest
ever. Anthony has attempted 161 field goals, which is 19 more than the next-
highest player. He’s attempted 20.1 field goals per game, which is No. 2 in
the NBA.

Something is clearly amiss in Madison Square Garden. Offensively, the Knicks
are a bit of a disaster. Those statistics are readily available with minimal

Therefore, does the NBA Commissioner really need to pile on? Yes, it was
jokey, but Jackson doesn’t want his team to be the butt of any jokes any
longer, let alone from the most independent bystander of professional

That’s called taking a stand for your guys. It may seem like childish
bickering, but Jackson has told the NBA that it’s not okay for anyone, let
along the highest person in charge of the sport, to take any kind of shots
against his guys.

Was the commissioner out of line? Maybe, a little. It’s not overly
professional for the head of the league to mock a team in the league, but it
was innocent. Jackson simply said, “enough of everyone in the world
criticizing my team.”

It’s also Jackson’s offense taking water. He didn’t create it, but Jackson has
supplanted Pythagoras as the face of the triangle.

Jackson was right saying the triangle isn’t a revolutionary concept. It’s a
movement and cutting-based offense and it’s not working at the moment. Do the
Knicks have the correct personnel for it?

At the moment, the Knicks haven’t seen Jose Calderon, the starting point guard
Jackson traded for in the offseason. He’s been hurt as has primary backup
Pablo Prigioni. It’s hard to run a new offense without either of your ball

The sample size is small as well. A team can’t master a new offensive
structure in six weeks. It’ll come.

What Jackson is trying to see go, is the Knicks living life under a daily
punching-bag status. The Knicks have earned it to some degree with
questionable basketball decisions, but Jackson doesn’t care. He publicly said

Remember when Jackson took the job and some of us opined it would be hard to
run the New York Knicks from a ranch in Montana? Jackson has dismissed the
notion that he would be indifferent to the job. Jackson is always the smartest
guy in the room. He’s calculated.

This was nothing different. Jackson defended his boys. The Knicks are trying
to do something, evolve, and Jackson is at the forefront of that movement. He
is the architect. It’s his offense, his plan.

It’s his job to defend his baby against constant, semi-warranted attacks.
Jackson tried to put an end to it.