There’s that memorable Sopranos episode centered on the Executive Game, where the poker players guard against possible FBI eavesdropping, referring to large sums of money bet as “boxes of ziti,” with Tony rejecting a friend trying to enter.
“Sorry, this game is only for high rollers,” Soprano says, before the friend later sneaks in anyway, unlike Phil Jackson, who couldn’t land a seat at the table this week with top NBA free agents. DeAndre Jordan’s meeting was more a courtesy call, and LaMarcus Aldridge reportedly cancelled upon learning Jackson wanted to move the league’s best power forward to center.
While elite players are avoiding the Knicks because they’re not championship timbre, most expected Jackson to at least go down fighting. Hypothetically however, if Aldridge was paired with Carmelo Anthony and another decent signee, wouldn’t the Knicks, albeit not the best, immediately become one of the East’s better teams?
It appears Jackson’s ability to better pitch the Knicks is due more to his increasingly perceived inability to turn them around. Players publicly praise him, but the younger stars especially may view Jackson as the wise old grandfather whose time has passed, respected but also avoided at family gatherings.