Phil Jackson formally introduced as New York Knicks president (video)
Phil Jackson officially became the new president of the New York Knicks on Tuesday, seizing the reins of a franchise that has lost its way over the past several seasons, if not longer. Jackson confirmed that his contract is for five years and speculation is that he will receive $12 million per year.
Jackson, who starred with the Knicks as a player during the organization’s successful run in the 1970s when the team won two NBA championships (1970, 1973) before going on to coaching where he won 11 NBA titles, appears up to the challenge of turning the team around.
“There’s no better place to win than New York city,” said Jackson at a Tuesday press conference at Madison Square Garden. “I can think of no better opportunity than the opportunities that I’ve had, three of the biggest cities and basketball franchises than Chicago, Los Angeles, and now to come back where I started. It’s a great feeling.”
For saying that he had no comments prepared, Jackson was at his best during his brief comments to the media: Eloquent, forthright and to the point.
Jackson was believed to be in line for the job for a nearly two weeks now — Carmelo Anthony stated last week that he had heard Jackson was coming aboard — but Tuesday’s presser allowed the team to formally introduce its new executive and for the team’s owner, James Dolan, a lightning rod for the ire of Knicks fans due to his conduct, to acknowledge that he doesn’t know much about running a basketball team.
Dolan also stated that he will “willingly and gratefully” give up power and authority related to basketball operations to Jackson. Good to know. Jackson and general manager Steve Mills reportedly will report directly to Dolan, who again admitted he isn’t a basketball expert.
“I am by no means an expert in basketball. I’m a fan, but my expertise lies in managing companies and new businesses,” Dolan said according to an ESPN.com report. “So I think I’m a little out of my element when it comes to the team, I’ve found myself in a position where I’ve needed to be more a part of the decision-making for a while. It wasn’t something necessarily that I wanted to do. But as chairman of the company, I felt obligated to do it.
“I’m happy now that we have the team of Phil and Steve to do that, and my whole job here now, is supporting them to win a championship.”
Jackson also addressed the elephant in the room: What does he plan to do about Carmelo Anthony, who can become a free agent at season’s end.
“There’s no doubt about Carmelo being one of the top scorers in the league, maybe the best individual isolation player in the game,” Jackson said. “I have no problems with committing to saying Carmelo is in the future plans.”
While the job ahead of him is fraught with the possibility of failure, Jackson insists he is not focused on what may or may not happen and how his tenure running the Knicks could tarnish his sterling reputation as a champion.
“I think that this is an opportunity and that’s what I look at it as, not as a possible failure chance,” Jackson said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity to do something that I love and that’s be with a basketball team, hopefully create a team that loves each other and plays with each other.”
No word on how embattled head coach Mike Woodson fits into those plans but it’s widely assumed that Jackson will install his own coach during the offseason. Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis, who either coached with or played under Jackson are possible replacements.
Whatever happens, it’s good to have the Zen Master back in the NBA. The Knicks wasted no time getting his name — not to mention some Knicks-Jackson memorabilia — out there.
Sign outside Madison Square Garden this morning pic.twitter.com/aNjOUm0qkF
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 18, 2014
On sale now. pic.twitter.com/XKCOlgjpEX
— Al Trautwig (@AlTrautwig) March 18, 2014
The Zen Master is back. How excited Knicks fans must be at that development.