Phil Jackson’s endless mind games notwithstanding, Shaquille O’Neal is convinced his New York Knicks will never venture anywhere remotely close to cornering the level of immortality running the Triangle Offense he and Kobe Bryant did until the Knicks’ newly minted president of basketball operations can acquire at least one more superstar talent to team with Carmelo Anthony.
O’Neal, who won three of his four NBA titles starring alongside Jackson and Bryant in L.A., recently opined “for the triangle to work, you need to have two superstars. Look at what Phil needed to win his championships in Chicago (Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen). Then look what he had in L.A., with me and Kobe. You have to have two superstars playing in the triangle to win championships.’’
Any shortcomings the Knicks experience this year won’t stem from lack of effort or manipulation on Jackson’s part. While the Zen Master has been somewhat evasive in revealing whether or not he will be issuing each of his players a targeted tome to read and presumably incorporate lessons from as he has done with many of his past teams, he does confess to enrolling each of them in a “mindfulness training” course.
In addition to teaching some of the principles of meditation, the course is also said to stress the significance of zeroing in on the here and now. “This is one of the things that they have to go through if they’re going to be part of the Knick organization,” barked Jackson. “You have to be in the moment. Being in the moment requires a certain sense of presence. It will help them be focused in their job.”
If only the Knicks could show such an early propensity for mastering the tenements of the Triangle. The Knicks have averaged just 80 points over their last two games, prompting one team official to recently lament “our coaches know way more about the Triangle than our players do.”
But Phil Jackson has a plan to change all that, and it all begins with gaining complete mind control over his charges. “This mindfulness is about sitting still and being quiet and controlling your breath and allowing you to be in the moment, and yet it’s so vital for a team to have this skill or players to have this skill. To be able to divorce themselves from what just happened that’s inherent to them — a referee’s bad call, or an issue that goes on individually or against your opponent. You’ve got to be able to come back to your center and center yourself again.”
And it doesn’t hurt to have Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on one roster and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant on another.