With the offseason officially here, Phil Jackson’s quest to fix the Knicks and right the ship can finally begin. And though much of Jackson’s success has come on the coaching front, there’s no doubt the Hall of Famer will take pride in ensuring basketball greatness returns to the Big Apple. After all, Jackson himself was part of the organization’s two lone championship victories as a player.
Since then, such a plateau has been impossible to reach. The Knicks are yet to have won another title, making most recent years difficult to endure for fans and players alike.
Still, there’s no denying how electrifying The World’s Most Famous Arena will become, once New York starts competing for a championship yet again. The fans in the Big Apple are those who can enjoy rich basketball history, as well as healthy competitive. They appreciate such success, even if it’s reached by an opposing team.
Just ask Jaren Jackson. The twelve-year NBA champion played a prominent role on the Spurs team that defeated the Knicks in the NBA Finals during the 1998-99 season. He averaged 8.2 points for San Antonio that postseason, and remembers quite well what competing for a championship on The Garden floor felt like, even if it were as a visitor.
“It was awesome. I don’t know if there’s been an NBA team in history to a win a championship quite like that, while in New York City. Maybe [there was a similar excitement level] when Phil Jackson did it with those guys back in the day,” Jackson told KnicksJournal.com. He added, “I’m sorry to have broken the hearts of Knicks fans that year. I spend a lot of time on the east coast now, because I live in D.C.”
“I run into a lot of Knicks fans, and they never hesitate to let me know. But they’re appreciative of me and my travels, so I love them for that.”
Even so, Jackson, a former opponent of the team, can understand how starved the Big Apple truly is for the guys in orange and blue to win a title again.
“Now that I’ve moved on from my playing career, I’ve had the opportunity to visit New York City again and attend a few Knicks games. I know a lot of former players who support the team, and I personally hope for the best as well. I think their time is coming. It could be very soon, by the way things looks,” he says. “There are some very exciting times for the Knicks ahead. You just have to remain a fan. Don’t give up on them. The fans can keep the team’s spirits up.”
Jackson, a former D-League coach, is looking to return to the minor league ranks. He’s expected to be a candidate for certain head coaching vacancies. Of course, New York will be looking for a main main of their own for the newly formed NBADL affiliate, the Westchester Knicks.