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Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Jax: Not everyone's 'made' for NYC

By Ian Begley

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Mark Jackson didn’t want to talk on Wednesday about his interest in the Knicks’ job. He didn’t want to say whether he’d been contacted by Knicks president Phil Jackson for the opening.

But the Brooklyn-born Jackson did have one clear message when it came to the Knicks’ head coaching vacancy, “Everybody’s not made for New York City,” Jackson, an ESPN analyst, said on a conference call to promote the NBA Finals.

Jackson expanded on his point.

“It’s something about the fans. It’s something about the pressure. It’s something about the media. So to be quite honest, everybody is not built for it," Jackson, the ex-Warriors coach, said.

"It’s a different animal. It’s a different monster and it takes a special personality and a person understanding the things that come into play to a ‘t.’ And I thought -– obviously I’m biased -– but I thought [fellow ESPN analyst] Jeff [Van Gundy] did an incredible job juggling all of them during his time as coach of the Knicks. But everybody’s not capable or qualified to do just that.”

Jackson also clearly stated that he wasn’t talking only about coaches.

“That’s whether you’re management, whether you’re playing, whether you’re coaching,” Jackson said. “I remember as a kid watching very good to great players play other places, be traded to the Knicks and not be the same type player. Whereas some propelled when they got the opportunity to put on a Knick uniform.”

Jackson’s views on performing in New York -– particularly as a head coach -– are relevant because Phil Jackson is the middle of a coaching search that may or may not include the former Knicks' and St. John's star.

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ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported earlier this week that Phil Jackson hasn't fully ruled out a sit-down with Mark Jackson, a Knicks fan favorite who has rejoined ESPN as a broadcaster after his dismissal by the Warriors. But sources maintain that Phil Jackson wants to hire a young coach he can mold and mentor and who won't be put off by his hands-on presence early on.

Derek Fisher is considered to be a leading candidate at this time. Phil Jackson has yet to talk to Fisher but is expected to do so by the end of the week.

Jackson has also stated that he wants to hire a coach with whom he has a previous relationship.

“I like to have a relationship -- a prior relationship -- with a coach, so that we know that we’ve gone through some kinds of issues together, we’ve dealt with some type of battle situations, we’ve had conflicts, and we’ve had disagreements, and we know how to work things out,” Jackson said last week.

Mark Jackson and Phil Jackson do not have a prior relationship. Phil Jackson also has never worked with Van Gundy. That would appear to put both Jackson and Van Gundy at the bottom of the list of Knicks coaching candidates -– despite support from the team’s fan base for both coaches’ candidacies.

Mark Jackson, an ex-Knicks and St. John’s star, on Wednesday acknowledged that he’d heard the groundswell of support for his candidacy among some Knicks fans.

“Obviously you hear the talk,” said Jackson, who refuted a report that he would be hesitant to work with Phil Jackson. “... It’s an incredible job, it’s an incredible opportunity and I’m sure that Phil Jackson will do an outstanding job of finding the right coach to get that organization and get that team headed back in the right situation.”

Both men declined to say whether they were interested in the Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers openings.

"If the team’s ever want to state what their plans are before they name a coach, that’s up to them," Van Gundy, the ex-Knicks coach, said. "I think it’s best that I don’t get involved with that."

Question: Do you think Phil Jackson should speak to Mark Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy about the Knicks head coaching vacancy?

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