National Columnist

Hurry, Phil, thrust greatness upon Knicks: Make yourself coach

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New Knicks president Phil Jackson did what he had to do Monday, removing coach Mike Woodson as soon as this 37-45 season ended, and now I'm hoping he'll do something equally sensible:

Hire the best available coach.


I mean, he's the best. Right? All those rings don't lie. Do they? There's a saying by Shakespeare:

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.

Which is Phil Jackson? I'm not asking for a friend, but for me. Seriously. Did he win those 11 rings because he's great, or did he win them because he had the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, and the greatest scorer of his generation, Kobe Bryant?

Was greatness thrust upon him, or what?

Truth is, Jackson could be great. These things aren't mutually exclusive: MJ and Kobe were great, therefore Phil was not. Maybe they were all great. Maybe I'm the only one who remains unconvinced.

Don't get me wrong, I lean toward Phil's greatness. But his greatness is one of motivation and organization, not X's and O's. I watched enough of his games to see the way he ignored his team for all but the final 10 seconds of every timeout, leaning into the huddle with just enough time to say something Zen-like before sitting down and watching them go win another game, another playoff series, another NBA title.

That stuff works when you're saying something Zen-like to Jordan and Scottie Pippen, or to Kobe and Shaq, or to Kobe and Pau. Does it work when you lean into the huddle and say something Zen-like to Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton?

We don't know the answer to that.

But I think we do.

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