Dissecting Phil Jackson & Pat Riley
The NBA contains an abundance of successful individuals that have left their mark on the league.
Presidents of their respective franchises, Phil Jackson of the New York Knicks and Pat Riley of the Miami Heat, were exceptional coaches. The Hall-of-Famers made winning appear to be a walk in the park.
They have not found the same success in the front office lately.
The Knick president’s yearly salary of $12 million correlates with his coaching welfare. The 11-time champion contains a dazzling basketball mind. Jackson’s mastery of the triangle offense and stability of substantial personalities links to that.
The specialized offense only grasped found with superstar players. The duos of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and duo Kobe and Pau Gasol are the players that brought the triangle to life. Jackson won six titles with Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and five with several Los Angeles Laker teams.
The Zen Master would grind his coaching career to a halt in 2011. He ended with 1,155 wins which fed into a 70.4% regular season winning percentage according to basketball reference. He followed that up with 229 wins in the postseason for 68.8%.
Riley’s coaching legacy is nothing to sniff at as well. He guided the Lakers to four championships as a head coach and one as an assistant. The greatness of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar graced the team. As Riley’s career surpassed him, he would coach for the Knicks and the Heat. An up and coming superstar in Dwayne Wade and aging Shaq dominated under Riley’s teachings. Riley’s doctrine manifested the Heat to their first NBA championship.
Riley’s total wins in the regular season as 1,210 on 63.6%. His playoff record ended with 171 wins on 60.6%.
In 2014 Jackson took over the Knicks to rebuild a championship franchise. The team would end the season 37-45. The first sign of trouble came when Jackon dumped HC Mike Woodson in favor of Derek Fisher.
Fisher was nothing short of the word bust.
Phil then cleaned house by trading away many great assets to the team. He bargained away Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert. He felt that losing the defensive prowess of Chandler would e outweighed by the upgrade in point guard play.
Other notable actions were the trades of Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Lance Thomas. Shumpert and Smith would be notable pieces for the Cavs on going to back-to-back finals and 2016 NBA champions.
The Knicks season’s record ended in a disappointing 17-65 record that lead to drafting blue-chip talent Kristaps Porzingis.
The pairing of Porzingis with Carmelo Anthony looked like a great foundation on paper. In reality, the relationship yielded a 32-50 season.
Riley’s presidency differs from Jackson’s in many respects.
Riley formed the Big Three of Lebron James, Wade and Chis Bosh in 2010. The team would go on to obliterate the Eastern Conference and beyond. The results lead to winning two titles in four years. In route to the championships Riley brought in valuable acquisitions, like Ray Allen and others, to stay above the league.
Even after the departure of James, Riley maintained Heat’s relevancy with the signing of a raw Hassan Whiteside. In result, they would go 37-45 but go 48-34 and make playoffs the next season.
Now the Heat and Knicks are both in a downfall as franchises as both hold records under .500.
Riley seemed to push D Wade and James out of Miami and is still reaping the sting of both decisions.
The Heat are 23-30 this season and seem to be getting hot.
The Knicks on the other hand, have been erratic. The signing of injury prone players, Derick Rose and Joakim Noah, have produced a 22-32 record.
The Knicks’ downward spiral was pilled on this season by Phil’s slanderous statements in media. Now the outrage of former Knick, Charles Oakley, paints New York’s demise covered by Associate Press.
Porzingis talks about the turmoil brewing in New York in Larry Brown Sports.
“We don’t have trust,” he said. “It’s kind of everybody for [themselves] a lot of times-both ends of the floor. So I wish I had an answer.”
Bad decisions, dishonorable moves and inflated egos have scarred the legacies of two great basketball giants. Is there time for them to pull up from their nosedive?