Legendary Coach Phil Jackson returns to the NBA to join the Knicks as new team president in charge of basketball operations:
Via The NY Times: The Knicks introduced Phil Jackson as their new president at a news conference Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden, where he pledged to be fully committed to the organization and to the tenets of team basketball. He also said that the team had been hindered by a “lack of solidarity” in recent seasons and that he would work to build better relationships.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to do something that I love,” said Jackson, who won 11 N.B.A. championships as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, “and that’s be with a basketball team and hopefully create a team that loves each other and plays with each other.”
Jackson’s becoming the head coach “but quickly moved on from there.” Jackson said he wanted to be involved in management.
“Jim came to me with this opportunity of: Pick the position you’d like to take,” Jackson said. “I said: ‘If I want to make this change, and I think I can make the change, I have to jump in with both feet. Move to New York and do this job the right way.’ ”
Jackson said he sought assurances from Dolan that he would have autonomy to run the team, free from interference.
“We had this discussion in January,” Jackson said, “because Jim knew I wasn’t going to come” without the freedom to make his owndecisions. Dolan said he was “willingly and gratefully” ceding those responsibilities. “First off, these two gentlemen to my left are the experts in basketball,” said Dolan, who was referring to Jackson and Steve Mills, the former president, who will retain his role as general manager. “I am by no means an expert in basketball.”
Dolan added: “I think I’m a little out of my element when it comes to the team. I found myself in a position where I needed to be
more a part of the decision-making for a while. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do. But as chairman of the company, it was
something I felt obligated to do.”
Jackson said he had been watching the Knicks (27-40) on television throughout the season and was hopeful that they could make
the playoffs. But he also indicated that the rebuilding process could take some time. He said he would meet with Coach Mike
Woodson at the conclusion of the season to discuss his future with the team.
As for Carmelo Anthony and his stated intent to pursue free agency this summer, Jackson said Anthony was an important piece of the team’s plans.
“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 think there are a number of things I see Carmelo doing as he moves forward, and I think I was on record saying a year ago that Carmelo, as great a player as he is, still has another level he can go to. And I hope together, with the team we create, he can get there.”
A video board outside the Garden featured highlights from Jackson’s playing days on an endless loop. The musical selections before the news conference featured “My Hero,” by Foo Fighters; “Glory Days,” by Bruce Springsteen; and “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams.
It was the first time Dolan answered Knicks-related questions from the news media in this type of setting in more than seven years, and his admissions were stunning given the way he has operated the team over the past 15 years. Still, most of the questions were directed at Jackson, the new face of the franchise.