Before he became the Zen Master, Phil Jackson was considered a defensive specialist with limited offensive ability.In 1967
, Jackson was drafted in the second round by the New York Knicks
. While he was a good all-around athlete, with unusually long arms, he was limited offensively and compensated with intelligence and hard work on defense. Jackson eventually established himself as a fan favorite and one of the NBA’s leading substitutes. He was a top reserve on the Knicks team that won the NBA title in 1973
. Jackson did not play during New York’s 1969–70 championship season due to spinal fusion
surgery; however, he authored a book entitled Take It All
, a photo diary of the Knicks’ 1970 championship run.
Soon after the 1973 title, several key starters retired, creating an opening for Jackson in the starting lineup. In the 1974–75 NBA season, Jackson and the Milwaukee Bucks‘ Bob Dandridge shared the lead for total personal fouls, with 330 each. Jackson lived in Leonia, New Jersey, during this time. After going across the Hudson in 1978 to play two seasons for the New Jersey Nets, he retired as a player in 1980.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday spotlights …Phil Jackson