The next coaching hire is pivotal, because for the first time in many years, the Knicks are stockpiled with draft picks and young talent. The next coach will be tasked with tapping into all of those resources. There is one coach that should be prioritized in this search: Mark Jackson.
In the past two decades, the Knicks have employed a carousel of 13 head coaches. In fact, the only two coaches that lasted more than three seasons since Pat Riley are Jeff Van Gundy and Mike D’Antoni. James Dolan is notorious for giving his coaches an extremely short leash, with the latest example being the firing of David Fizdale 22 games into this season.
Jackson’s latest coaching job was in Golden State, where he spearheaded the beginning of the Warriors dynasty. He was lauded for unlocking Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in a motion offense, as well as giving Draymond Green ample opportunity to grow. While Steve Kerr gets most of the credit for growing the super team into NBA Champions, Jackson laid the groundwork for Kerr to build on.
“He was a sign of stability for me,” Curry said at the time of the firing. “I had three coaches in three years, and he embodies what I know is good around here with the Warriors — winning and that kind of feel. It was a lot different in my first few years.”
The primary reason, however, that Mark Jackson needs to be hired as the Knicks’ next head coach Is because he knows how to succeed in the Garden. It takes a certain type of demeanor to perform under the bright lights of New York City, and also be the coach that lifts the Knicks from the cellar. If anyone is up for the task, it is Jackson.
He was raised in Brooklyn, and played Division 1 basketball at St. John’s University. In 1987, the Knicks selected Jackson with the 18th pick. With Patrick Ewing and Mark Jackson, until the latter was traded to the Clippers in 1992, the Knicks were a perennial playoff team. Mark Jackson knows what is necessary to build a winner in New York.
Another major reason to hire Jackson is to hire a coach that deeply connects with fans. A homegrown star like Jackson would raise morale with Knicks faithful, and Jackson has many connections with top players around the league today. In today’s NBA, a coach that knows how to build strong relationships with the players and the fans is very valuable. Jackson would resonate with everyone around the Knicks organization.
If the Knicks truly want to show that they are evolving as an organization, they need to appoint Mark Jackson as coach. An organizational totem pole of Leon Rose, Scott Perry, and Mark Jackson would take all the attention off of Dolan. Those three men also combine years of building networks with players throughout the league, as well as tremendous basketball IQ.