Phil Jackson may have been a coach known for handling tough personalities, but he’s butted heads with more than one NBA player, and it’s not really hard to see why now. In the latest edition of Phil Jackson: Shade Master, the former coach-turned-executive explains why he got rid of the players he did over the course of his first year as president of the Knicks.
To no one’s surprise, he had the most to say about Smith.
“J.R. had been exhibiting some delinquent behavior and had gotten into the habit of coming late to team meetings, or missing them altogether.”
“He was supposed to carry the scoring load for the second unit and he wasn’t doing the job. I also said that because of his unacceptable behavior, he had two strikes against him with this team. He didn’t really respond. He’s a very sensitive guy, with his big doe eyes. He looked like he was going to tear up. But he finally responded that he was going through some issues with his gal.”
Although he wasn’t as frustrated with Iman Shumpert as he was with Smith, Jackson ultimately decided he wasn’t a positive force for the team either.
“I like Shump,” says Jackson, “but he has a very loud, big personality. It was difficult for most of the other guys to deal with, especially if things don’t go well for him or the team.”
Jackson also described Sam Dalembert as a “nuisance.”
The other nuisance, according to Jackson, was Dalembert, who had fallen asleep in the pregame locker room sessions.
And what fun is throwing shade if you can’t throw it at Andrea Bargnani?
“Would anybody take a chance on Bargnani? I did and got no return whatsoever. Maybe he’d be another candidate for a salary dump. Maybe we’ll just bite the bullet and waive him. Anyway, we’re now in the hunt.”
And he wonders why he didn’t get more votes for Executive of the Year?