The triangle offense is the legendary system Phil Jackson employed on his way to eleven championships as a coach. You might even be able to add his two rings as a player, because the early 70s Knicks teams Red Holzman coached were a quick-pass operation also. But to hear Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony talk about adjusting to the triangle, it sounds like he’s playing something a little different from what Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan played in Chicago. Anthony admits he’s used to holding the ball, taking his time and “seeing where the defense is coming from.” The triangle seeks to dictate to the defense instead of the other way around, by moving the ball rapidly. With the triangle: “If you don’t have nothing in a second, second and a half, the ball is out,” Anthony said. “There’s no holding, there’s a lot of ball movement.”
But didn’t Michael Jordan hold the ball? A lot? (That’s six of Phil’s rings.) And didn’t Kobe Bryant hold the ball a lot too, when he played in Phil’s triangle in LA? The triangle, even to some basketball aficionados, remains as mysterious as that triangle in Bermuda–why else does no one use it? The Spurs, for instance, don’t play the triangle and yet they move the ball better and quicker than anybody–so what is it? The Spurs still post people up, and that’s not in the triangle. (But then what did Shaq do in LA, if not post up?) And back to Jordan and Kobe: Carmelo probably doesn’t need to worry. What happens pretty often in the triangle is that the shot clock winds down and the ball kicks out to the star. The star looks at what the defense gives him, and does his thing.