The first choice is not always the best option. From the beginning of the Knicks head coach saga, it was clear that Phil Jackson wanted Steve Kerr. He played with the Bulls championship teams running Jackson’s triangle offense, and remained a close friend of Jackson’s after their tenure together. When Kerr took the money in Oakland, choosing to coach Golden State, Knicks fans were left shocked and confused. Most likely Phil Jackson was as well. He had received the verbal commitment from Kerr, and everything seemed like the planets were aligning for Kerr to come to the Knicks. But he chose one more year and a couple more million dollars. The Knicks were left to make a decision. Who else could run Jackson’s triangle offense?
Derek Fisher, of course. Following Jason “I’m not even retired for a minute but heck, I’ll try coaching” Kidd’s route, Fisher retired from Oklahoma City and instantly found himself employed with the Knicks. Rumored for about 5 years, 25 million dollars. There have been critics, because it’s New York and of course there have been. He has zero coaching experience, he’s just going to be Jackson’s pawn, etc, etc. Sure, these points are probably valid, but one of Fisher’s features that has been a smidge overlooked has been his leadership experience. Ask anyone of his former teammates and they’ll tell you that Fisher is a natural born leader. That he commands respect from younger players and veterans alike, and that he is a winner. You know, he only won five championships with the Lakers under Phil Jackson. He played in a NBA record 259 playoff games in his 18 year career. Not to mention he was also the president of the NBA Player’s Association during the 2011 lockout.
Derek Fisher is 0-0 as Knicks head coach. It’s the same as if Steve Kerr, Mark Jackson, or Jeff Van Gundy were hired instead. Fisher will coach the triangle offense because that’s what Phil wants. It didn’t matter who was hired, all would have run that same famous offense, and all would have to coach the same players. All would have to convince Carmelo Anthony to stay. All would have to deal with the same scrutiny and media pressure that comes with coaching in New York. Derek Fisher, a recent former player that has experience working with Phil, was chosen.
The current Knicks mess of a roster and overall situation is something that is best suited for a veteran coach, one who knows how to mold and develop young players and is able to get veterans to buy into their system (albeit, Jackson’s system). But if we’re going trust anyone in this situation, it’s Phil Jackson. It could be the wrong decision. It’s safe to say if the Knicks don’t make the playoffs this upcoming season the New York media will want Fisher’s head. It’s a gamble, but with limited coaching options it seems that Fisher, despite his nonexistent head coaching experience, might be able to effectively coach this team and these players. Why do I have this faith, you ask? Because I have no other choice.