Column: In Phil we trust?

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference in Greenburgh, N.Y., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Derek Fisher was fired as New York Knicks coach Monday, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The All-Star break could not have come at a better time for the New York Knicks.

The Knicks enter the All-Star break with a 23-32 record, which comes as a disappointment to a fan base that did not exactly know what to expect coming into this season.

The record also led to the firing of head coach Derek Fisher on Monday after a season and a half of calling the shots. Fisher, a first time head coach, ultimately failed to make team president Phil Jackson believe that he could lead the franchise in the direction that they wanted to go.

While it is unclear what the final straw was that led to Fisher’s firing, the slump that the Knicks have found themselves in recently could not have helped. After starting the season 22-22, the Knicks limped into the All-Star break by losing 10 out of 11 games, with nine of those losses coming under Fisher.

New York struggled mightily in fourth quarters during this slump, as they have been unable to figure out ways to close out games. In their first game under interim head coach Kurt Rambis, the Knicks late game woes continued.

In what could easily be looked at as one of the most bizarre endings to a game this season, New York lost 118-108 to the Washington Wizards. Never mind the fact that John Wall torched the Knicks all night, finishing with 28 points and 17 assists, New York was still in position to win the game.

Trailing by 10 with 1:38 left in the game, the Knicks did not pack it in. Instead they battled. From that point, thanks to nine points down the stretch from Carmelo Anthony and a big three-pointer from Langston Galloway the Knicks were right there. They were finally going to overcome their late-game demons with a come-from-behind victory when Galloway found himself wide open from three-point range with a chance to tie the game as time expired. That shot clanked off the rim, and left Galloway laying face down on the floor of Madison Square Garden demoralized.

This was the perfect metaphor for the Knicks season so far. Just when you think things might be different, the Knicks revert back to their old ways.

All the Knicks can really do is just continue to trust in Jackson’s process and philosophy that led him to win 11 rings as a head coach in the NBA. That process has often times been unclear, especially considering the season the Knicks had last year. However, Jackson did pull the trigger on drafting Kristaps Porzingis, who is on the path to becoming a franchise player.

The current franchise player, Anthony, is also showing that his game will transition well as he ages. Anthony has taken the lowest amount of shots per game in his career this season, while still averaging 21.4 points per game. Anthony has certainly bought into Jackson’s triangle system and is allowing Porzingis the opportunity to develop.

It is up to Jackson to assemble the proper pieces around Anthony and Porzingis that can create a team that can make the playoffs and contend. Not only are they without a permanent head coach, the Knicks are severely lacking at the point guard position.

For this team to reach its potential both of these issues need to be addressed, and Knick fans must be patient with Jackson. The man hit a home run with the selection of Porzingis, while striking out with the hiring of Fisher. Jackson’s next moves will be extremely important for the direction of the franchise.


Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women's basketball. He can be reached via email at spencer.mayfield@uconn.edu.