Luke Walton criticizes Knicks over treatment of Phil Jackson
Luke Walton on Tuesday criticized the New York Knicks organization over its treatment of Phil Jackson, saying he wasn’t “in favor” of his mentor’s firing this past offseason.
“I don’t know all the details of what was going on here, obviously, but a mentor to me like that and someone that means as much to me as Phil does, I’m not in favor of it happening,” Walton said before his Lakers lost to the Knicks in overtime on Tuesday might at Madison Square Garden, via Newsday.
Walton of course played under Jackson during the Zen Master’s tenure as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, when the team won three NBA titles. The two have maintained a solid relationship ever since.
And to see from afar Jackson being unceremoniously dispatched by the Knicks left Walton conflicted, while conceding that “coaching on the West Coast I’m not around to see how and why everything played out the way it did.”
To say Jackson’s run as Knicks boss was an unmitigated disaster would be a drastic understatement. The Knicks, of all teams given the team’s long run of organizational dysfunction, needed a steady hand overseeing things, and Jackson clearly was not up to the task.
Jackson’s poor relationship with Carmelo Anthony — not to mention his bungled handling of budding superstar Kristaps Porzingis, among other embarrassing incidents — sealed his fate, and the Knicks cut him loose in June.
And still, despite Jackson’s perceived shortcomings as an NBA executive arguably apparent, Walton still seeks out Jackson for guidance as he navigates the beginnings of his head coaching career.
“I still reach out to him,’’ Walton said, via the New York Post. “I talked to Phil two weeks ago with some questions I had for him. He gave me good advice.”