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.
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.