The former Knicks president talked to Coby Karl, son of George Karl and a former player under Jackson, and spilled the tea on Melo, accusing him of being a poor leader during their three-year tenure in New York.
Carmelo, I think, wanted to be a leader, but I don’t think he completely knew how to be a leader as a player. And I think that the strength of his personality was intimidating to some of the coaches that were asked to coach the team.Phil Jackson, The Curious Leader
The compliance between the team’s star player and the head coach is a prerequisite for a healthy culture to develop. But according to Jackson, Anthony wanted to do things his way, and the two have bumped heads ever since.
Melo, however, saw things differently. During his appearance on “The Old Man and The Three” podcast, a 36-year-old veteran accused Phil of trying to impose his own beliefs on the team. Jackson wanted the Knicks to run the triangle, despite it being an outdated approach that didn’t fit the team’s roster construction.
Carmelo pushed back against it, not allowing the team’s president to play the coaching role. And from that moment, Jackson wanted to get rid of him. But there was a catch.
I wanted to trade Carmelo, and he’s got a no-trade clause that they asked for, but I suggested that if there was a situation — and I asked them to trade, I wanted them to be compliant with it. And you can have all your choices that you want, but I want you to go along with the idea that maybe your time has come with being with the Knicks. So that was met without compliance.Phil Jackson, The Curious Leader
From that moment on, it was clear one of them had to go. And after the New York media sided with Carmelo, James Dolan, caught between two fires, had no choice but to let Jackson go.
I think that Jim felt like I was facing too big of an uphill climb and relieved me of the job because he just saw the media was going to be backing Carmelo in this situation. And I was going to be the guy taking the lumps.Phil Jackson, The Curious Leader
Thus ended Jackson’s tenure in New York — a three-year stretch where the Knicks didn’t make the playoffs once. Their best record under Phil was 32-50 in the 15/16 NBA season. So instead of turning things around, the legendary NBA coach left the Knicks in an arguably worse state than when he joined the organization. And it seems he still isn’t ready to take any blame for it.
Managing superstars is hard, especially when there is no organizational culture for them to fit in. It all comes down to individuals, and their ability to co-exist. But what happens when a superstar is managed by another NBA superstar? How do you reconcile differences between an 11x NBA champion and arguably the greatest coach ever and one of the greatest scorers ever?
Judging by the Knicks example, you can’t. That relationship was doomed from the start. And 4 years after the breakup, one side still holds a grudge.