The Choice Should Still Be M.J.

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: May 8, 2008

NEW YORK — The one thing that the new Knick President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh cannot afford to do is do the very same thing that the former person who held this position so dangerously the last four years is go for the sexy name to coach the team.

Former Knick guard Mark Jackson, who is still considered the front runner to replace Isiah Thomas on the sidelines, interviewed weeks ago and still there have been no offer made.

As it would happen, Walsh decided to wait to see who either got canned for their team’s poor showing in the Playoffs or during the regular season for that matter, or quit because they no longer felt comfortable with their job of choice.

Phoenix Sun head coach Mike D’Antoni and former Dallas Maverick Avery Johnson appear to be on the Knicks radar. But, I would offer a big buyer beware sign on the doorpost if I were the Knicks.

For one, Johnson is a great energizing and vibrant young coach but he has shown that he can be out coached in tight situations, badly. Take the 2006 NBA Finals when Dallas had the Miami Heat up 2-1 and during Game Three were up by 13 points late in the game only to be out maneuvered by Pat Riley and ended up losing the series 4-2.

Then in last year’s first round of the Playoffs, after Dallas posted the NBA’s best record during the regular season with a 67-15 the Golden State Warriors under the eccentric mind of Don Nelson gave the Mavs and good ‘Ole Fashion’ wood shed meeting.

That alone would have gotten 85 percent of the coaches fired, but Mark Cuban gave Avery another year to disprove himself. The Jason Kidd trade didn’t help matters any but neither did NOT playing to his strengths either.

D’Antoni isn’t what the Knicks need either. The last thing this bunch needs is another offensive mind coach. Stud power forward Amare Stoudamire openly criticized the strategy of the coaching staff while gushing about how Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs ran his team.

Jackson isn’t by any means a proven commodity as a coach. But, he is number two all-time in career assists so he knows a little something with X’s and O’s and running a team.

Besides, Jackson would be the type of personality that may be able to get the most out of Stephon Marbury who will be in the last year of his contract and looking to prove himself to be better than he showed the last two seasons.

They are both professed born again Christians so they may have something in common on that front also.

The Pat Ewing and Walt “Clyde” Frazier factor may also come into play with Jackson at the helm. Frazier isn’t looking to coach but he did offer his help in the way of teaching defensive techniques.

That could prove valuable in a major way as Clyde has been a television commentator for the team for several years and he sees them from up close and personal. And Ewing would probably be a better mentor/coach to Eddy Curry.

Assistant coach Mark Aguirre for all of his assistance with Curry couldn’t teach him proper footwork as a center. Why? Because Aguirre, in his playing days was a high scoring non defensive playing small forward and not a true big man despite his girth.

Curry under the tutelage of the recently Hall of Fame selected Ewing and speaking center to center may be able to develop a better understanding of what the NBA game is all about.

See the All-Star files of Houston’s Yao Ming and Orlando’s Dwight Howard.