As detailed here last week, Isiah Thomas played a small role in getting Phil Jackson to the Knicks.
Thomas spoke about the Jackson hire recently on SiriusXM NBA Radio, predicting that Jackson and owner James Dolan will have a solid working relationship.
"He and Jim will have a great relationship because they come from a place of compassion. They come from a place of trying to do right by their fellow human being," Thomas told hosts Jared Greenberg and Rick Fox. "You know, I think both of them see life in a particular way. I think they both are insatiable about winning and trying to win and I think they want to win in a particular way. Phil is disciplined enough and dogmatic enough in his thoughts that he wants to win his way and do it in a way that encompasses all.
"Now, his way isn’t the only way but there’s a belief that he has, that he’s gone out and demonstrated and shown that you can win in this way. And therefore he has followers who believe in his way of doing things and I believe he and Jim will get along fantastically in this relationship.”
The relationship between Jackson and Dolan will be heavily scrutinized in the course of Jackson's five-year, $60 million deal with the Knicks. Dolan has a history of meddling in his executives' basketball decisions, but he has adamantly stated that Jackson will have full autonomy.
Thomas had full autonomy while running the Knicks from 2003 to 2008, some of the least successful years in franchise history.
Thomas predicts Jackson and Dolan will build trust over time. "There will be the layout of the vision, there’ll be the buy-in of the game plan moving forward, then there has to be a buy-in in terms of trust. Who can you trust? Who will trust you? And those relationships are built over time within an organization," Thomas said. "There will be some people in the organization who believe that the way they’ve done it for 20 years is the correct way to do it. That hasn’t been a very successful working model and I believe that with Phil there some of those things will change.
"There will be some things that will always need to stay in house but there needs to be a better working relationship with the media in order for the team to have the type of success that I believe they can have, and for Phil to have the type of success that I believe he can have."
Thomas also believes Jackson should give his buddy Mike Woodson a shot to coach next season.
"It’s been talked a lot about just how the next coach will come on. I think Phil is going to be pleasantly surprised when he sits down and has a conversation with Mike Woodson about his understanding of basketball and his understanding of implementing a triangle, if that’s what he wants implemented, and understanding the system and style of play," Thomas said. "We all come from championship backgrounds, we all come from championship philosophies and coaches and Woodson will not have a problem understanding and implementing the nuances of the triangle if that’s what Phil wants done.”
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