Defiant Phil Jackson sticking to Knicks' plan

Don’t let the on-court struggles fool you, Phil Jackson isn’t going anywhere and neither is his biting style.

The New York Knicks’ boss made that clear in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan.

Jackson says that he has no interest in exercising the opt-out clause in his contract after this season, that the Knicks are making strides, that he’s impressed (like most everyone) with the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, what he’s learned about Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, the current state of his former team (the Lakers) and what it must be like for rivals like Pat Riley and Gregg Popovic and much more.

Some of the highlights from the Jackson Q&A, including the scrutiny he’s been under:

Jackie MacMullan: You have been under siege since you’ve taken over the Knicks, which has been different for you. In your coaching travels you’ve been all but untouchable. How have you handled the adversity?

Phil Jackson: I knew the parameters of what would go on from years of playing in series against the Knicks. I remember all the barbs. It’s a process of sticking to my beliefs and being able to say, ‘Whatever.’ This is what I was hired to do. I’m going to follow the plan and if it doesn’t work out, it will be evident.

JM: You have an opt-out clause in your contract after this season. Do you plan to exercise it?

PJ: I have not entertained that. I’m looking for this Knicks team to get back into a situation where they are competitive. Do I have to win a championship before I feel I’ve done the job I’ve been asked to do, which is to bring this group back to that competitive level? No, I don’t. We’re starting to make progress. I like a lot of the things we are doing here. But we’ve got more to do.

What he’s learned about Carmelo:

JM: What have your learned about Carmelo Anthony since you got here?

PJ: Carmelo likes communication. He likes a relationship. I was with a number of players who were fine with a player-coach relationship, which involved support, ‘How are you feeling?’ that kind of stuff. Shaq, Kobe, that’s all they wanted or needed. They were busy. I was never the guy who said, ‘Let’s go out to dinner.’ But with Melo, I do that. Not as much as I’d like, but we do it, because he likes that part of it.

JM: What do you talk about?

PJ: I do like his activism, his willingness to be an activist. I communicate with him on how to couch activism. My feeling is it can be abrasive if it’s not done the right way, but it has to be somewhat abrasive if it’s going to be activism. In some ways, it has become vogue to be an activist — that’s true.

I told Carmelo about how Snoop Dogg, who I know from L.A., approached it in his community. He went to the police graduations in L.A. and spoke to the cadets, which is where the rubber meets the road in our lives. It’s not just simply about color and race. It’s about the atmosphere in the community. I feel Carmelo could have a reasonable voice in that way. I’m not here to lead him down the road. I’m just here to add some suggestions.

Which teams impress him:

JM: Which NBA teams impress you?

PJ: It’s obvious Golden State plays a game in which people move the ball, they move themselves, they are creating passing lanes, they get penetration, they hit the open man, they set picks. They get a little wild, but Steve (Kerr) does a really fine job of keeping everyone in their lanes, so to speak. He’s a really fine coach with a great command of the game. That “feel” for basketball is so important.

PJ: Cleveland has really gotten better about playing together as a team. They have shown much more resilience defensively and are taking responsibility on the defensive end. The ball still gets stuck. Not everyone has a purpose. They have a role, but they might not feel like they are involved and I like to see all five players being involved in the game.

San Antonio continues to do what they do best, running their system, which incorporates a lot of things I believe in, things Pop and I have struggled with each other over for a few years.

On Pat Riley:

JM: You, Popovich and Pat Riley are the most decorated coaches of your generation. What separates Riley?

PJ: Pat has a terrific sense of what he wants to do. Now that I’m president, I have to read all this stuff about the league. Usually it’s ‘delete, delete, delete.’ But I noticed there was something about D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) and Pat’s communication breaking down the other day. I wondered about that. I found it surprising.

JM: It all started when LeBron left, right? Could you have ever imagined Earvin Johnson leaving Riley, or Michael Jordan leaving you?

PJ: It had to hurt when they lost LeBron. That was definitely a slap in the face. But there were a lot of little things that came out of that. When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland and he wanted to spend the night. They don’t do overnights. Teams just don’t. So now (coach Erik) Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, ‘What do I do in this situation?’ And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, ‘You are on the plane, you are with this team.’ You can’t hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.

I always thought Pat had this really nice vibe with his guys. But something happened there where it broke down. I do know LeBron likes special treatment. He needs things his way.