If Derek Fisher knew he’d be forced to run the triangle, he would’ve never been the Knicks coach.
He just never thought to ask.
The 44-year-old made that claim to FS1 in an interview that will be aired Thursday, indicating that he didn’t have enough confidence or experience to question Phil Jackson. In the process, Fisher detonated the narrative – long pushed by the Knicks — that the Zen Master wasn’t pulling the strings from the front office.
“I wasn’t smart enough to ask the right questions going into taking and accepting the job,” Fisher told FS1. “What are you going to expect of me? Do I have to run the triangle? If I don’t want to run the triangle, is that going to be a problem for you? Those are things I wasn’t prepared to do coming straight from being a player. Steve Kerr was prepared to do that. Which is probably why he didn’t take the job in New York. He knew how to ask those questions coming from the place of experience that he’s been in Phoenix and just maybe just being out the game a little longer than I. So I put myself in a tough position to start.”
Kerr turned down the offer from Jackson to instead coach Golden State, where he is guiding a dynasty favored to three-peat as NBA champions. Fisher’s career and personal life spiraled downward after taking the Knicks job.
He was fired with the worst record (40-96) of any Knicks coach who lasted longer than a season. He also missed a practice after flying to L.A. to be with his girlfriend, Gloria Govan. During that trip, Fisher was punched by his former teammate, Matt Barnes, who is also Govan’s ex-husband.
Fisher has since appeared on Dancing With The Stars and was arrested for DUI last year. He was fired by the Knicks in the second season of a five-year deal and has not sniffed another coaching job.
Fisher won five championships as a player under Jackson with the Lakers. They ran the triangle in L.A., but Fisher didn’t know it was a requirement to bring it to New York.
“I do believe that part of our struggle in New York was, 1) I didn’t find a way to communicate effectively that would allow for him to understand my vision and where I saw the team and where I saw us going. But also for me to understand his concerns and what he wanted to continue to see from me or things that were important to (Jackson),” Fisher said. “And so had he said, ‘Fish, you have to run the triangle, there’s no way around it, if you’re not going to do that it’s going to be an issue and maybe we need to go in a different direction. … Those weren’t conversations we had. So our communication wasn’t effective that allowed us both to go into the situation knowing this is what it’s going to be.”
Asked by host Kristine Leahy if he wouldn’t have accepted the job if he had to run the triangle, Fisher answered, “Yes. Correct.”