Phil Jackson Leaves New York

By Thomas Albano

And the New York Knicks fans sang one of the following (or both)…

The New York Knicks and Phil Jackson agreed to part ways on Wednesday morning, prompting sighs of relief throughout New York and tears of joy spreading throughout Knicks nation.

This ends (for the most part) a tumultuous time in the organization that has seen Jackson — the now former president of the Knicks — clash with players including Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, have an uncomfortable conflict with Charles Oakley, and give fans nothing but frustration after being brought in in an effort to rebuild and save the franchise.

For not just Knicks fans, but basketball folks in general, it’s a move long overdue.

James Dolan and Phil Jackson

At the very least, it should have been done before the draft, when Jackson drafted Frank Ntilikina with the team’s first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft — someone who can appropriately play the triangle offense Jackson wanted. Reports today have stated that if Jackson had been fired before the draft, the team would have taken NC State guard Dennis Smith Jr. (Side note: As I’m typing up this piece, I’ve learned Ntilikina has been injured in practice).

Where was Dolan the night of the draft? Playing with his band. So, shows you how much he cares for the franchise, I guess. Or, he used this as a smokescreen to ensure Jackson would get all the blame (but remember that he brought in Jackson in the first place!)

And keeping that in mind, Dolan wanted to honor Jackson’s contract the whole way through. This tells me there might still be some stuff we don’t know about that led to this sudden departure.

Regardless, it ticked me off last week to hear the likes of Bill Plaschke (and I love him and Around the Horn) to defend Jackson’s treatment of Porzingis by looking to trade him over a god damn exit interview. Plaschke said he was just doing a typical Phil Jackson thing of putting the young man through the ringer and trying to embarrass him after embarrassing the Knicks franchise (and to devalue his players so that way he can have a hold of them and not have to trade them).

Funny, considering all the Knicks fans I know, and all of the media, have given more beef to Jackson for what he’s doing than for the kid skipping the interview.

And even if you want to call KP a prima donna for doing that, if there are any people I can put angel’s wings and a halo on in this situation, it’s him and the fans. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say KP was the best player on the team last season because the whole Knicks team has been full of prima donnas.

Porzingis

Carmelo has been Mr. “Pass Me The Ball” (and though he wasn’t as bad this season, his little affair and getting ejected from quite a few games aren’t exactly “role model material”). Joakim Noah got suspended 20 games for an anti-doping violation. Derrick Rose is…well, Derrick Rose. And Jackson and Dolan don’t need explanations.

For all the “star power” this team had, last season was an absolute trainwreck. And it’s going to take a lot of time to recover.

But for now — ding dong, the wicked witch is dead.

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That Time the Ball Family Got ‘Raw’

By Thomas Albano

Well, this was quite the interesting week in WWE now wasn’t it? From multiple segments on Raw to help build up to WWE Great Balls of Fire, to a Smackdown Live that featured a second women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match (because the first was god damn awful and had an ending that produced more backlash than the pay-per-view named as such), WWE programming was filled with memorable moments this week.

But none may be more memorable, or infamous for that matter, than when the Ball family showed up for a MizTV segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

I didn’t know what to expect with this segment, and I did not expect for LaVar and his sons to side with Ambrose and for LaVar to take off his shirt and nearly clash with Miz.

And it was during Ambrose’s entrance, when LaMelo Ball was heard over the microphone, where the figurative s*** hit the fan.

“Beat that n***a a**!” LaMelo shouted twice, picked up over the microphone and going through to and heard by the live TV audience. The video above with the segment was edited, but you can hear the audio in the following clip towards the end:

This, of course, prompted WWE to issue an apology for the incident, stating “The inappropriate language used by a guest during the ‘Miz TV’ segment was not scripted nor reflects WWE’s values.” Of course then the next night, Big E of The New Day makes reference an old Booker-T promo from WCW in which he accidentally used the slur against Hulk Hogan (think about it and you’ll understand the irony there).

Now, there is a good thing and a bad thing here. The bad thing? WWE may have gotten a bit of heat with LaMelo’s uncensored comments. And, well, some WWE personnel (namely Corey Graves and Braun Strowman for this piece) shared some fans’ thoughts in that they wanted the Ball Brand trio nowhere near the ring.

Am I the only one who drew this comparison last night? #lavarball #mamajune #raw @wwe @espn @bigballerbrand

A post shared by Corey Graves (@wwegraves) on Jun 27, 2017 at 12:58pm PDT

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 11.28.03 PM

The good thing? Well, I guess you can say this is one of those times controversy creates cash and that any publicity is good publicity. People are talking about it. Hell, you’re reading this piece!

But, honestly, as I’ve mentioned on previous editions of The Unspoken Podcast, I just want to see Lonzo play an NBA game. His dad’s the hype man, I get it, but I’ve gotten sick of him.

Let’s see if Lonzo can actually walk the walk in the bigs.