When Phil Jackson took over as New York Knicks president in March 2014, he had one major concern over the decision-making hierarchy: Would the team's notoriously meddlesome owner James Dolan give him enough space to install his vision?
Dolan says that was initially the plan before three years of largely despondent basketball – the Knicks averaged just 26.7 wins over Jackson' three full seasons at the helm – forced him to intervene.
"Look, when I brought on Phil, the big question is, 'Are you going to stay out of it?' And I swore I would stay out of it, and I did. I stayed out of it," Dolan told ESPN's Ian O'Connor. "And it wasn't until the very end that I had to make a decision that it clearly wasn't working. I think Phil knew it, too. I think he hoped I would have more stamina, but I didn't."
Specifically, Dolan cites Jackson's insistence on the triangle offense, a strategy which the Hall of Fame coach utilized to devastating effect while winning six titles with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite his hand-picked coaches – first Derek Fisher, then interim coach Kurt Rambis, and finally Jeff Hornacek – attempting to install variations of the triangle, the philosophy never took hold.