Knicks president Phil Jackson says interim coach Kurt Rambis first suggested hiring Jeff Hornacek as the team’s head coach, according to Charley Rosen of TodaysFastBreak.com. In the latest installment of “The Phil Jackson Chronicles,” Jackson states that Rambis and Hornacek had a working relationship that began when they both played for the Suns.
“It was Kurt Rambis who first suggested Jeff,” Jackson recalled. “They had played together in Phoenix for several seasons so Kurt had a good read on Jeff. The Suns’ coach was Cotton Fitzsimmons who had been an assistant at Kansas State under Tex Winter. So Cotton knew the triangle, ran pieces of it and believed in system basketball. It was there that Jeff teamed up with Kevin Johnson in a two-guard offense, which is how the triangle is formatted.”
Jackson had been impressed by the job Hornacek did in his two and a half years as head coach in Phoenix. In mid-May, Jackson held a six-hour meeting with Hornacek in Los Angeles, diagramming plays and discussing offensive and defensive philosophies.
“I liked the way he saw the whole game and how every part was interrelated,” Jackson said. “Jeff also said that he believes in visualization, that a shooter should visualize the ball going through the hoop every time he shoots. I could easily visualize him coaching the Knicks, and I was sold.”
Jackson and Hornacek flew back to New York for a private dinner with GM Steve Mills, but the media learned about the meeting and reported Hornacek’s hiring well before it occurred. Jackson says he wishes that hadn’t happened because the story broke before he could inform the other candidates who interviewed for the job.