Basketball Zen master Phil Jackson likes to think the triangle offense he loves is simple. He gets agitated when people like NBA commissioner Adam Silver and u-Knick-quitous fan Spike Lee indicate otherwise. Silver recently said that even he doesn’t understand the triangle offense. And Lee, the award-winning director, thought he was doing fans a public service by making an entire film to explain the triangle. Jackson reacted peevishly to both, saying Silver should shut up and that Spike didn’t know anything about basketball.
But it must be damned complicated, the triangle. Because the players on the Knicks roster–which Jackson is in charge of–have been playing basketball all their lives and they can’t get it. (The Knicks keep losing and rank 21st in offense.) Jackson, however, gave a clue recently about how hard it is. The New York Post quotes Jackson saying: “We think in terms of basketball-wise, Thanksgiving, December, it’s time to really say, ‘If you haven’t gotten it [the triangle offense] by now, maybe we’ll have to think of you as a learner or not a learner as a ballplayer at that time.’” Given that the players arrive in pre-season camp in August, Phil Jackson himself says his simple system takes four months to learn.