Short of ending the 41- year championship drought, these have been extremely exciting times for the New York Knickerbockers and their fan base, as an entirely new regime has come in and sparked an unbelievable amount of optimism.
That optimism starts and begins with team president Phil Jackson whose first major move was the hiring of Derek Fisher. From here on out Derek has the daunting task of rewarding Jackson’s faith in him as a coach and student.
In order to do this, coach Fisher has put together a completely revamped coaching staff with a vast array of experience. Below we take a look at the newly formed staff:
The most known and accomplished coach on the staff, Kurt Rambis is somewhat of a legend. As the energy guy for the legendary Laker teams of the 80’s, Rambis is no stranger to championship basketball. According to Jackson, he will serve as number one assistant and drill sergeant who will assist in running practices for the novice head coach. Rambis, who previously had a similar role under Jackson in L.A., is by far the most experienced coach on the staff already having been head coach of both the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves. He will be heavily leaned on to teach the complexities of the “triangle offense”, the preferred system of team president Phil Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher.
The son of legendary basketball coach, Walt Hazzard, Rasheed, formerly of the L.A. Lakers, will be assisting Derek Fisher in N.Y. as an assistant coach on the revamped staff. Previously, Hazzard worked as a scout and assistant under Phil Jackson, so his familiarity with both Fisher & Phil should be extremely beneficial. Prior to joining the Lakers organization, Hazzard, who played under Mike Jarvis at George Washington, served as an assistant coach at the University of Portland where his duties included developing the team’s defensive strategies, strength & conditioning as well as player development. Hazzard also spent time as both assistant and head coach of the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Developmental League. He comes to New York a basketball lifer and a coach soon to be on the rise.
Longstaff, who spent the past four seasons as Video Analyst for the OKC Thunder, where he and Derek Fisher first established a rapport, was promoted to assistant coach of the Knicks. The former Portland, Maine High School basketball standout, who began his coaching career as coach at Portland & Gorham High, will be entering the most high profile job of his career. The presumably close working relationship with Fisher was a determining factor in Longstaff‘s promotion to Knicks’ assistant.
The most recent addition to the coaching staff, Keefe, spent the past seven seasons with OKC, serving as player development coach before moving to assistant the past five seasons under Scott Brooks. Prior to his role in OKC, he also served as video coordinator for the San Antonio Spurs during the 2005-07 seasons. Before joining the league, Keefe who played at UC Irvin, served as an assistant coach at NCAA Division II Bryant University.
Recently Coach Fisher has expressed the desire to add a fifth assistant with longtime Phil Jackson assistant, Jim Cleamons emerging as a possibility along with Bill Cartwright, but regardless, this is the most significant change to the Knicks’ coaching staff since Pat Riley arrived and overhauled everything back in 1991. With change comes possibilities and Knick fans are wishing for the biggest possibility, Phil’s 14th ring!