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!