And now, a moment of silence for Phil Jackson and his New York Knickerbockers . . .
After a fling with respectability, the Knicks are a mess again. On Wednesday, they arrived at Oracle Arena with 18 losses in their last 23 games, a bad streak that cost coach Derek Fisher his job. The Knicks have been so awful, Spike Lee nearly traded his season tickets straight up for a New York Rangers jersey.
Now there’s talk that the 70-year-old Jackson will return to the bench for home games, a rumor that team spokesman Carmelo Anthony slam-dunked earlier in the week.
“Phil ain’t coaching no more, man,” announced Anthony, who also played forward in his spare time. “Let’s kill that rumor — Phil ain’t coaching no more. He’s 70 years old. He don’t want to be on the sidelines, but he actually looks pretty good for his age.”
Mind you, this is the same Jackson who dissed the Warriors and their 3-point ways not long before they walked off with the grand prize last spring. More recently, the Zen Master compared the Warriors’ Stephen Curry to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly Chris Jackson), which was kinda like comparing his Knicks to the 1985-86 Boston Celtics.
Steve Kerr was very wise to turn down Jackson’s offer to coach the Knicks two years ago, and Warriors sidekick Luke Walton could face with the same decision in a few weeks.
Just don’t do it.
WHERE’S HARRISON?: If you had turned down a four-year, $64-million contract extension with no strings attached, might you become a tad anxious at some point, maybe even a bit unnerved?
Could be that’s why Barnes can’t throw a basketball into the Bay from Jack London Square lately. He hasn’t had a 20-point game in four months, which hasn’t done squat for his value in the open market, where he hopes to strike it rich(er) as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“The wide-open layups, that’s the most frustrating part,” Barnes said after practice earlier this week. “Three-point jump shots, that’s one thing, but when you’re missing the bunnies, that’s when you’re just sitting there, like, ‘Are you serious?’”
Barnes is too good for his funk to last much longer. Nonetheless, anyone who believes the Champs shouldn’t pursue Kevin Durant because he could upset team chemistry needs a wellness test.
SEX AND THE CITY: Is it possible that the first NCAA Tournament for Cuonzo Martin as Cal coach also will be his last?
School officials plan to look into what if any role that Martin played in the case of former Cal assistant Yann Hufnagel, who admittedly tried to “trick” a female newspaper reporter into a sexual encounter at a parking garage, investigators reported. The unidentified women testified that Martin had been alerted of the unwanted advances six weeks before action was taken. Hufnagel was fired earlier this week.
Hufnagel and Martin had crossed paths in Tennessee — Hufnagel as a Vanderbilt assistant, Martin as Volunteers coach. So highly was Hufnagel thought of as a recruiter, Martin lobbied on his behalf two years ago, when both headed west.
Given that Cal has had way too much experience in this type of thing lately, both sides may want to part ways whether Martin is at fault here or not. That could be easily arranged since the coach never signed the contract that he agreed to with the previous administration.
WOE JOHNNY, WOE: It was only last week when a Giants pitcher told MLB.com, “It’s a good idea that MLB is trying to protect the pitchers. One of us could get hit and get killed.”
The person was none other than Johnny Cueto, and little did he know that he could have been the one.
After Cueto was beaned on his first pitch the other night, Major League Baseball planned to reach out to him about protective headgear. Free advice isn’t enough. Half-shells should be mandatory before there’s a full-flown tragedy on the field. Five major league pitchers were struck on the head last season.
Somehow, Cueto remained in the game — he was a hockey player in a past life, apparently — but the guy might not be as fortunate next time.
JUST SAYIN’: Matt Cain is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Friday, and at the rate Giants pitchers have been going down lately, he may want to consider full body armor just in case.
WANTED: Tackle football players. Have 60-million bucks to throw away! Experience preferred but not necessary. Team sucks like rotten eggs, but there’s a great breakfast place across the street. Will be expected to replace divots. Call 408-562-4949 and ask for Chip, Trent or Jed.
THE LIST: Clueless about your NCAA Tournament brackets? Afraid to be the office nerd? Worried that you won’t be invited back? Relax, Balls has a way for you . . .
Pick at least one cool nickname the first round (Cal Golden Bears, Cal State-Bakersfield Roadrunners, Green Bay Phoenix, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Wichita Shockers).
Keep politics and religion out of it (Austin Peay Governors, Providence Friars).
Don’t follow directions: (Middle Tennessee State, Northern Iowa).
Ignore Duke, become verrrrry popular.
By all means, avoid Charles Barkley’s picks for the final game like they’re acute gastritis (Kansas, North Carolina).
Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.cal berkeleycal golden bearsCarmelo AnthonyChip KellyChris JacksonCuonzo MartinDerek FisherGolden State WarriorsHarrison Barnesjack london squareJed YorkJohnny CuetoKansasKevin DurantLuke Waltonmahmoud abdul-raufNCAA TournamentNew York KnicksNew York RangersNorth CarolinaPhil JacksonSan Francisco 49ersSan Francisco GiantsSpike LeeStephen CurryTennesseeTrent BaalkeYann Hufnagel