Although Phil Jackson is looking to hire a coach who has worked with him in some capacity before, there’s one man that he might be willing to make an exception before. After being fired by the Golden State Warriors, Mark Jackson surprisingly hit the market, and although he has no ties to the triangle, hiring him in New York would make a lot of sense. Jackson helped change the identity of a historically unfortunate Warriors squad, but long before he hit the coaching ranks, he was a promising point guard for the Knicks. This week’s Throwback Thursday shows you his tenure in New York.
Looking to pair up Patrick Ewing with a pass-first point guard, the Knicks selected Jackson with the 18th pick of the 1987 NBA Draft. Little did they know that they got their hands on one of the best passers of all-time.
After averaging 13.6 points and 10.6 assists in his first season, Jackson was named the 1988 Rookie of the Year, and as a home town hero from St. John’s (when they were really St. John’s), immediately became a fan favorite. The Jackson-to-Ewing combination led the Knicks to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons, but by 1992, his future in New York was a bit murky. Fellow guard Rod Strickland had emerged as the preferred point guard, and after being benched for an entire game during the 1992 postseason, Jackson was later sent packing for good.
However, it wouldn’t be the last time that New York would have Jackson run their offense. After stints with the Clippers and Pacers, he returned in 2000, when the Knicks traded Chris Childs away to the Raptors for both Jackson and Mugsy Bogues. He was 35 years old and his best seasons were behind him, but this was they Scott Layden years, and although they had just made the NBA Finals in 1999, in retrospect, any sort of sentimentality to the previous era was accepted. Jackson wound up playing 83 games in the 2000-01 campaign, and all 82 in the following season, and although his minutes were slightly limited, he was still an effective floor general, and even more effective as a leader.
You could tell when Jackson was playing that he would one day make for a great coach. He may not have been the fastest, jumped the highest, or had the best shot, but he always had his offense under control, knowing who wad to be where, and when to do what. Jackson may not be the favorite for the coaching job, but I think it’s safe to say that his hiring would bring Knicks fans back to the good ole days.
Who is your favorite point guard in Knicks history? Let us know in the comments section below!
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