Derek Fisher and the Knicks

I thought it’d be worthwhile to talk for a bit about Derek Fisher’s hiring by Phil Jackson to become the next coach of the Knicks.

There seems to be a bit of a trend in hiring coaches, in that ex-players are going to be good coaches.

Don’t believe me? Derek Fisher played for the Thunder this past season before retiring to coach the Knicks. Same for Jason Kidd last year. He played for the Knicks in 2012-2013 before retiring to become the head coach of the Nets this past year. Steve Kerr, the new Golden State coach, isn’t moving into coaching directly after retiring (he retired in 2003 and has since worked as the GM of the Suns and as a TV analyst) but he is an ex-player. He played for 15 years and won five rings as a part of the second Bulls three-peat and the first two Duncan-era Spurs titles. Clearly, there’s now something inherently good about ex-player coaches.

The question is, of course, what the advantage is. As Jackson very well knows, coaching isn’t all about strategy; in fact, strategy might not be the most important part.

During Jackson’s long years as a coach, first with the MJ Bulls, then with the Shaqobe Lakers, then with the Kobe Lakers, he acted more as a peacemaker and a psychologist than as a master tactician. He understands the need for someone who understands the locker room dynamic and can act accordingly to make sure everyone is happy and performs to the best of their abilities. Who better to know what happens in a locker room than a former player?

Also, ex-players know tactics just as well as, if not better than, non-ex-players. While the latter may know more about advanced stats than the former, the former knows what makes basketball sense, not to mention what the players are actually capable of doing.

With all of these advantages to having a ex-player as a coach, why are there no player-coaches in the NBA anymore? While the NBA prohibits someone from being paid as a player and paid as a coach, an assistant coach could be given the title of assistant coach while the player actually coached. Why would this not work? The player is in the locker room and knows what’s happening, They know what the team needs, be it rest, motivation, or just to be left alone. Especially as players are already the emotional leaders, (like Kevin Garnett on the Celtics) why not make them the leaders in name as well?

On most teams, especially on those without an elite coach, the best player, the superstar of the team, rules alongside the coach. If the relationship between that player and the coach sours, that team can kiss good-bye to any success and wave hello to a dysfunctional year. Erasing that risk from the equation can certainly be beneficial.

In fact, there’s something already like that in basketball today. Doc Rivers is the coach and GM of the Clippers. Doc the GM made a couple of bad moves over the summer, for instance signing JJ Redick, which didn’t work out. Doc the coach wouldn’t have been very happy about those moves but, of course, he couldn’t exactly feud with himself. A potential power struggle was averted because one person already had all the power. While in governments that may not work too well, on an NBA team, it seems to work pretty well.

Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson should work pretty well together, mostly because they already have. Fisher and Jackson won five rings together in Los Angeles, in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2010, in two separate stints for each of them. Although they (obviously) aren’t the same person, they still have much of the same experiences and philosophies, making it more likely that Fisher will, rather than be his own coach, act as an extension of Jackson, making sure that there’s no tension

With Jackson and his philosophies coaching the Knicks through Fisher, the Knicks seem to be in good shape. The biggest problem is that tension might arise because their coach is better than their starting point guard. Other than that, I like their hiring a lot.


In NBA Finals news, Duncan continued his throwback with another monster double-double of 18-15, and LeBron had an F-You game and scored 35 along with 10 rebounds. So much for cramps.

The question, of course, is what the idiots who blindly hate LeBron are saying. Here’s my best guess:

“Why didn’t LeBron score 50 points and grab 20 rebounds along with garnering 10 assists. What a slacker! And all his team did was win the game. He should have won these Finals, along with the next four this game. LeBron really sucks.”

On that comedic note, here’s to another great game tonight!


9 thoughts on “Derek Fisher and the Knicks

  1. michael pedoeem

    hey sushi just wanted to let you in on this. fish also know the way phil jackson philosophy after playing for him for many years. Additionaly Jackson wants some one who know how to run the triangle offense (which would work in this case with melo) and other statigies. Thats why he is signing players and coaches(SUCH AS FISH AND ODOM) who used to play for him so jackson can replicate what he did to the Lakers and Bulls. The bottom line is the knicks will probaly win the finals because they got carmelo anthony

  2. sushikaplan Post author

    To address your points:

    “fish also know the way phil jackson philosophy after playing for him for many years”: I believe I noted that in the column

    “Jackson wants some one who know how to run the triangle offense (which would work in this case with melo) and other statigies”: I believe I also noted that in the column

    “the knicks will probaly win the finals because they got carmelo anthony”: I’m a Knicks fan and I find this ludicrous. They’ve traded away all their draft picks. They have James Dolan as an owner. They’re capped out. Their second best player after Melo is Tyson Chandler, who’s old and always hurt. The third best? Maybe Stoudemire and his fusilli knees, maybe Iman Shumpert, maybe Andrea Bargnani, the 3-point-shooting big man who can’t shoot threes. The only reason why Melo would come back is because of Jackson, the extra 30 million that the Knicks can offer him, and… well… Nothing else. If Melo cares about winning rings, he won’t stay with the Knicks, and, in regards to your last four words, as of now, the Knicks don’t have Melo– he’s a free agent. I feel bad for Knicks fans (and yes, that means I feel bad for myself).

  3. Lox

    Ah, but hope springs eternal. I remember that Herb Williams, in the tail end of his career, served in a way as a player/(assistant) coach. I think there are certain players who can serve well as coach because of their ability to connect with their players, the ultimate in player-centered coach. Jason Kidd started off poorly, and things seemed to turn around after the “spilled-drink fiasco.” Perhaps at that point he realized he was trying to be too much of a strategist and not enough of himself…In the end they ended up playing harder for him in the playoffs than in the previous year.

  4. sushikaplan Post author

    That’s certainly why Jackson, the Zen Master, was a great coach. And yes, Tim Duncan will be a great coach– in fact, you could easily make the case that he’s co-coaching the Spurs, alongside Pop. Still, Fisher’s main qualifications are that he’s a veteran, that he worked with Jackson for a few years, and that he’s old. That’s not much to go on.

    While yes, certain players will be good coaches, it’s tough to know exactly which ones, and there’s no guarantees that Fisher will be a good one. But as, you said, for Knicks fans, hope certainly springs eternal.

  5. michael pedoeem

    you know what sushi i dont find any were in your article were it says anything that i just stated so be grateful that i commented

  6. sushikaplan Post author

    “Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson should work pretty well together, mostly because they already have.”

    They “have much of the same experiences and philosophies”.

    Um… Yup…

  7. Shiloh

    You’re all retarded! The Knicks are going fail again and again no matter who’s coaching… They have no one besides Melo and if Melo leaves in free agency the Knicks will suck even more than they do

    1. Lox

      Well, Shiloh, of course that’s true, but you’re not supposed to give up on the season at least until it starts. As of Sunday night (or soon after), the Knicks will be tied for best record in the NBA…but coaches can turn minor pieces into a team (c.f. Spurs charging to yet another title).

      1. sushikaplan Post author

        While it’s certainly possible that Jackson can work his magic and transform the Knicks into a powerhouse, historically he hasn’t done that. In his championship winning runs he’s worked with pairs of stars (MJ-Pippen [and Rodman was also a nutcase in the second three-peat], Shaqobe, Kobe-Gasol) along with a difficult superstar (MJ, Kobe, Kobe) and played psychologist and made them work together effectively. He doesn’t have one superstar, let alone a pair.

        He also has historically not turned bit players and bench riders into solid rotation players, unlike Pop. Even if he could, the only players that seem to be worth salvaging from this horrendous Knicks season are Tim Hardaway, Iman Shumpert (if they haven’t broken him already), and Melo. You can’t make gold from lead if you don’t have any lead to begin with.

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