Phil Jackson: Kobe Bryant trained harder than Michael Jordan

Kobe Bryant Michael JordanMichael Jordan was renowned for his legendary work ethic, but Phil Jackson says Kobe Bryant surpassed the Chicago Bulls great in terms of training.

Jackson, now the president of the New York Knicks, did a lengthy Q&A with the New York Post. Jackson talked about why he took the Knicks job, how he thinks the team’s players will fit in, and how good he thinks they can be. One of the other big subjects that came up was Carmelo Anthony.

‘Melo is known for being an excellent offensive player, but a guy who works mostly in isolation on offense. Jackson wants to feature the triangle offense, which requires more ball movement. The Post’s Steve Serby asked whether Kobe, who was an iso-type player before Phil installed the triangle with the Lakers, would be a model for how Carmelo should make the adjustment. Phil shot down that idea. For good measure, Jackson added that Kobe worked even harder than MJ.

“No. No one can approach that,” Jackson told The Post. “I don’t expect anybody to be able to model their behavior after that, although Kobe modeled his behavior a lot about Michael Jordan, but he went beyond Michael in his attitude towards training, and I know Mike would probably question me saying that, but he did.”

Phil knows that essentially saying Kobe worked/trained harder than Jorder will rankle the ever-competitive Bulls great. In fact, we’re expecting a response from MJ. But Phil coached both players, so we have to trust him on this — he saw it first hand.

[Related: Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have identical moves -- see video]

While it is a surprise to hear Phil say Kobe worked harder, we know Kobe has always been an extremely hard worker whose training has been lauded for years. Hearing Phil praise Kobe for his training is not a surprise.

Jackson also talked about how ‘Melo will need to be able to adjust to the triangle the way MJ did.

“Michael had to be able to share the ball, other people had to get shots, only so many shots available out there. And when someone’s taking 27 a game or something? 25 a game, that’s maybe a third of the shots. That can’t happen in basketball.”

[Also see: MJ not sure he could beat Kobe one-on-one]

Hopefully for the Knicks’ sake, ‘Melo recognizes that. He’s already said he’s looking forward to being able to share the scoring burden.

Other good nuggets from the interview were that Jackson believes the Knicks are a playoff team, though he hasn’t visualized them winning a championship yet. He also thinks the controversial JR Smith might be a little like Dennis Rodman in terms of personality.

As for the Knicks … they’re not that far away from being a low-level playoff team … but it’s equally likely they finish outside the top eight in the East just like last season.

H/T Slam

Phil Jackson: Carmelo Anthony is ‘good for what his word is’

Carmelo Anthony KnicksCarmelo Anthony has notified the Knicks that he is opting out of the final year of his contract, but that does not mean he won’t be back in New York. Anthony has openly stated that he likes Phil Jackson’s plan for the future of the Knicks. Does that mean he is going to stick around to see if Jackson can work his magic?

Earlier this week, Jackson said he expects Anthony to be back with the Knicks next season. Why? Because Carmelo gave Phil his word.

“We don’t know what all that means,” Jackson told ESPNNewYork’com’s Young Misuk when asked about Anthony’s decision to opt out. “But we have every confidence that Carmelo is good for what his word is, that he wants to be in New York, he likes playing in New York, he wants to compete, he wants to be part of a playoff team that is competitive toward a championship.

If you remember, Anthony said over the winter that he would be willing to take a pay cut to help the Knicks sign key free agents. Does that mean he will now pass up the opportunity to sign a max contract to give New York more flexibility? Jackson sounds like he is banking on it.

“When I take his word, he’s the one who opened that up, that it wasn’t about the money,” Jackson said. “So I challenged him on that, because I wanted our fans to see he’s a team player, that he was going to do what’s best to get our team ahead farther and faster.”

Carmelo is going to receive tantalizing pitches from quality teams like the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks once free agency begins on July 1. He could end up remaining in New York, but I highly doubt he’s going to do it at a discounted rate.

Spurs owner Peter Holt takes shot at Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson KnicksThe San Antonio Spurs are right up there with the greatest teams in NBA history. After winning their fifth championship since 1999, there is no arguing the Spurs are a dynasty. Some would even say San Antonio is up there with Phil Jackson and his multi-championship Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers teams. Spurs owner Peter Holt certainly thinks so.

When Holt was asked if his team’s fifth championship was the sweetest, he couldn’t resist taking a shot at Jackson. After the Spurs won the NBA title in 1999, Jackson was quick to point out that they did so after a lockout-shortened season.

“Even though it was a shortened, asterisked season,” Holt said sarcastically of his team’s first championship, per NBA.com’s Jeff Caplan. “Phil, Phil, Phil, Phil, we all played the same amount of playoff games, didn’t we, Phil?”

Jackson has also pointed out that he was retired in 1999. He left the Bulls after Jordan “retired” following the team’s second three-peat. Holt isn’t impressed by the way Jackson moved on.

“Yeah, uh-huh.” the Spurs owner said. “Well, he bailed out.”

The Spurs are certainly a different kind of team. They won their five championships over 15-year span, enduring some tough seasons and heartbreaking losses along the way. As successful as Jackson has been, he kind of has a tendency to jump ship when his championship teams show signs of crumbling.

When all is said and done, both Holt and Jackson have plenty to be proud of.

H/T Eye on Basketball

Phil Jackson sends his congratulations to Gregg Popovich, Spurs

Phil JacksonPhil Jackson has done his share of detracting from the legacy of the San Antonio Spurs, but he had nothing but love for his former foe on Sunday.

After watching the Spurs beat the Miami Heat 104-87 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win their fifth championship, the Zen Master tweeted the following message of congratulations to the Spurs and Gregg Popovich:

Jackson is now the president of the New York Knicks, but mostly everyone still thinks of him as the longtime coach of the Lakers and, before that, the Chicago Bulls.

No coach may ever be able to touch his mark of winning 11 championships, but there sure are a lot of people who feel Pop is a better coach than Jackson. That’s probably because they compare rosters and look at the overall body of work. And that might be why Phil sometimes feels the need to needle San Antonio.

I don’t feel like entering the debate about who’s the better coach right now, but I will say it was awfully cool of Phil to tip his cap to Pop and the Spurs.

Steve Kerr verbally committed to Knicks before signing with Warriors

Steve KerrSteve Kerr negotiated with Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks for quite a while before he ultimately decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors. According to Jackson, the two actually got beyond the point of negotiations and all the way to a verbal agreement.

A previous report from Marc Berman of the New York Post indicated that Kerr ultimately chose the Warriors after receiving a lowball offer from the Knicks. Jackson offered a different story when speaking to reporters on Friday.

“Unfortunately for him, he committed to me the day before the job opened with Golden State,” Jackson said, per Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. “So I had to kind of release him to actually go to this job and say you have to do what’s right for yourself. I understood entirely the process he was going through to have that job open up. That was something he kind of thought would be a good fit for him. So that’s good, we’re happy for him.”

It seems like Kerr wanted to be closer to his family all along, so I’m more inclined to believe what Jackson said rather than Kerr being insulted by a lowball offer. That said, I wouldn’t doubt that the Warriors and others did warn Kerr about working for someone like James Dolan.

Jackson also admitted that the idea of him coaching the team next season during a “transitional” period has been discussed, but he is not open to it. He confirmed that Derek Fisher is on his list of “very good candidates” for the job.

Phil Jackson reportedly will consider Luke Walton, Tyronn Lue and Derek Fisher for Knicks coach

Phil JacksonPhil Jackson finds himself in a new position after being turned down by Steve Kerr: looking into Plan B.

The New York Knicks need a new coach and the team’s $12 million a year president is casting a wide net for his options to replace Mike Woodson. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, Phil is considering a combination of his former players and coaching associates for the position.

They say Jackson is looking at his former players Luke Walton and Tyronn Lue, who are already coaches. He will also look at Derek Fisher in the case that the Oklahoma City Thunder guard retires.

Jackson will also reportedly look at former coaching associates Kurt Rambis, Jim Cleamons, Bill Cartwright and Frank Hamblen. Current Nuggets coach Brian Shaw is another person Jackson reportedly is looking at.

Shoot, if Jackson just planned to look through all his cronies, the Knicks would have been better off saving the $12 million for Phil and just hiring a search firm for $200k.

Report: Phil Jackson tells Carmelo Anthony he fully expects to hire Steve Kerr

Steve KerrDespite rumors that Steve Kerr is interested in earning a head coaching position with an NBA team on the West Coast, all indications are that he is still on track to become the next coach of the New York Knicks. According to the Wall Street Journal, Phil Jackson told Carmelo Anthony over dinner earlier this week that he fully expects to hire Kerr.

Jackson had dinner with Anthony in a private room at the Tribeca Steakhouse in New York. He reportedly confirmed to Anthony, who is expected to opt out of his current contract, that he will attempt to re-sign him via free agency. Jackson also told Anthony he expects Kerr to be an extension of himself on the sidelines, which makes sense since Kerr played under Jackson for five seasons and won three NBA championships.

As further evidence that the Knicks are still likely to sign Kerr, the New York Post reported on Friday that the Los Angeles Lakers are not currently pursuing the TNT NBA analyst. The reason? They believe Kerr is already too far along in talks with Jackson and the Knicks.

Kerr lives in San Diego and has a daughter who attends college in California. Some believe he would prefer to coach closer to home, but there are simply too many signs connecting him to the Knicks. It would be extremely surprising if he ended up elsewhere.

H/T Rotoworld