Phil Jackson Is About Who He Knows Not What He Knows


The axiom it is not what you know but who you know makes the world go round.  Research has shown that relationships are crucial when it comes to both our emotional and physical health and that those who have relationships show benefits in both these areas.

This is also most certainly the case in the world of sport where cronyism and nepotism are the rule.

The sports community is one of the tightest and most insular especially at the top tiers and its members depend more upon who they know than what they know. 

The list of those who know each other in sports and have benefited from their connections would fill an ocean, if not a memory card in one’s phone contacts.

If you are a coach in professional sports no need to be on Linkedin to find a job that is for the pedestrians of the world.

Most recently Phil Jackson was rebuffed by Steve Kerr in his bid to land Kerr as the coach the Knicks.

Kerr who is from the West coast ultimately chose the Warriors over the Knicks. The Warrior job became available after Mark Jackson, a New York hometown favorite, was let go by them.

Jackson who was quickly picked up as an NBA analyst, his job prior to coaching, is rumored as the pick for a number of other coaching vacancies.  Jackson did something that others failed to do with the Warriors, he won.

But he also did not get along with those within the organization, rubbing many the wrong way. Which speaks directly to who you know– not what you know. If success is not indicative of competence than what is?

As for Kerr, it was rumored that he preferred the West coast to the East where he has roots and his family favored staying put. 

There were also conspiracy stories that floated the notion that Kerr was told that anyone working for the Knicks and their owner Charles Dolan had masochistic tendencies.

Marv Albert, was the longtime radio announcer and voice of the Knicks, who is currently Kerr’s TNT broadcasting partner, concurred that working for Dolan is only for the insane, as Kerr sought out Albert’s advice about the Knicks vacancy.

There have also been persistent rumors that Dolan sabotaged Jackson’s choice which if true would not surprise anyone.

And quite frankly one would assume that Jackson would walk if that were indeed the case—but anything is possible when it comes to the bizarre world that is the Knicks.

Kerr chose his other longtime friend, Joe Lacob the owner of the Warriors whom he has known for twenty years.

What is one to do when they are caught between two close friends? 

Leading up to the decision, most were certain that Kerr would choose Jackson and the Knicks. After all it was Jackson who recognized Kerr’s basketball IQ and Kerr played for Jackson and won three championships.

Comfort and trust are two of several key components that make up relationships. But so is loyalty as well as paying back others who have helped you climb your career ladder.

And this is paramount in the world of sports where one is sure to get a job when fired. It may not be the job that the person optimally wants, but those in the world of sports take care of their own.

It is not called the coaching carousel for nothing! 

Rob Sarver who owns the Phoenix Suns of which Kerr owns a very small percentage and will have to divest himself of as coaches cannot own any part of other teams, had this to say about Kerr, “I can’t overstress the importance of communication and trust in any relationship.”

And much like in the world of sports the rest of us call upon our contacts to help us when we need them.

However, the world is becoming more complex and relationships which were once endemic and the glue of the sports world and our work places are being replaced by social networking.

There are generations that have grown up living in virtual worlds on their computers.  It is here that relationships and friendships are forged with characters in video games and with faceless voices that are simultaneously playing online. 

In speaking with youth I have found that this often becomes a substitute for real interactive connections, and it is no small wonder that many complain that relationships have become more transitory and vapid in nature.

How could they not be, when they were never true relationships in the first place? 

Nonetheless it is no small wonder that networking which is essential to finding a job and sites like Linkedin have become crucial.  As this virtual reality world serves to connect us with those that we need to know–through those that others know–sort of.

It has been my experience that many connect on Linkedin for the sheer purpose of collecting connections or the need to appear that they have some, rather than having a purpose or goal in mind.

Sport involves team building and working together as a unit. Team building bonds us in ways that creates comfort, trust and powerful shared emotional experiences.

Sometimes these bonds lead us to overlook others we do not have feelings for; people who may in fact be more competent.

When emotions overrule cognitions it is a recipe for making wrong decisions and acting impulsively.

In the case of Kerr who has never coached before but is supposed to be a veritable basketball genius, Jackson perhaps lucked out. We are about to find that out.

It was no mistake that Jackson sought out Kerr as his first choice. People like Jackson are loathsome to go out of their comfort zones.

One would think that Jackson with all of his success would be more daring and perhaps might surprise us in the end. But fear and going with the known, seems to be driving Jackson.

Jackson is now rumored to be enamored with Derek Fisher another individual who Jackson is comfortable with and knows. The fact that Fisher who has never coached and is still playing speaks solely to Jackson’s deep seeded need to know. 

Jackson, Kerr, Jackson, Albert, Lacob, Fisher, and Sarver they are all about who they know—not what others actually really know.

Aren’t we all?