There were reports this week that New York Knicks owner James Dolan has reneged on his word that he will stay out of new president Phil Jackson’s way by saying he was not happy with Jackson’s latest round of firings within the Knicks’ organization.
There was a feeling of impending doom coming from Madison Square Garden this week. Word was that there was trouble in paradise and that a breakup was inevitable. Apparently, Dolan did not like some of those personnel decisions Jackson was making.
From Frank Isola’s Daily News story that reported the rift:
Just one month into his role as Knicks president, Jackson has already clashed with Dolan, the chairman of Madison Square Garden, over personnel decisions, the Daily News has learned. According to a team source, Jackson is looking to remove several staff members, which is commonplace when a new administration takes over, but Dolan opposes removing certain employees.
According to the source, Dolan’s reaction to Jackson’s request was to tell the 11-time NBA championship coach to simply focus his attention on building a winning team. To say that “minor friction,” as one Garden source called it, can be classified as Jackson’s honeymoon with Dolan being over may be stretching it a bit.
Jackson has now publicly stated that Dolan is keeping his word in letting Jackson make the “basketball decisions”. At least for now.
From Ian Begley of ESPN:
"As far as Jim Dolan's promise or his premise when I took this job that's he's going to leave basketball decisions up to me, really, he's been loyal to that promise," Jackson said. "And going forward from last week through this week, just wanting to talk to [ex-Knicks coach] Mike [Woodson] when we were through talking to him, the staff — it's all our decision. He's been very true to his word to this point."
So, for now, things are not as bad as they seem, which is good. It’s still quite unnerving that we have to hear about these rumors and innuendos nonetheless.
That being said, Dolan has to know his boundaries and realize how the Knicks look in the public’s eye. Once Jackson committed to trying to help revive this moribund franchise, Dolan should have been doing backflips. The stain on this franchise is unbearable and he should not make matters any worse. Jackson is doing a huge favor to Dolan in trying to reshape the image of the Knicks.
It will be hard work and Jackson needs full autonomy. Sure, Jackson has never served a position in the front office before, but the man wins where ever he goes and his contacts run deep. He will surround himself with great basketball minds, and won’t have a string of “yes men” deceiving him. He's renowned for running a tight ship.
This marriage could be rocky, but Jackson has to be the one in charge.
Let’s hope it lasts.
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