The stench of the Phil Jackson era continues to percolate through Madison Square Garden, even after his departure from the team this summer.
Appearing this week on “The Woj Pod,” ESPN’s Ian Begley revealed that New York Knicks players are still skeptical of head coach Jeff Hornacek for not standing up to Jackson and his demands that they run the triangle offense.
“You look at around the All-Star break,” said Begley, according to Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk. “They started running more triangle, and it was clearly Phil’s influence. So, players looked at that, and they saw Jeff as not having enough authority to kind of stand up and say, ‘Hey, Phil, I’m coaching the team. This is how I want to run the offense. This is what I want to do.’ I think if Jeff took that approach, he would have won this locker room over. But he didn’t, and I think that hurt him.
“So, that doesn’t go away – right? – just because Phil is not here,” Begley continued. “I think that impression, just from the few guys who shared it with me, I think is still there. I think Jeff has to show himself to be his own man this year, and I think every opportunity is there for him to do that. But he’s certainly under a microscope.”
The triangle was indeed a point of major contention among the Knicks last season, and it doesn’t appear that Jackson’s exit as team president in June smoothed things over any. As for Hornacek, he did have some notable spats with his players over the course of the year, so the 2017-18 campaign could end up becoming a referendum on him and his ability to lead the Knicks.