Phil Jackson, the Zen Master and possessor of 13 championship rings as a player and coach, was introduced as simply the president of the New York Knicks, the team that hasn’t won a title since he was a player for them in 1973.
Jackson, 68, was upbeat, low-key, realistic about the Knicks’ problems and funny, quoting Red Holzman with that “if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere” line that is particularly apropos for the Knicks and mercurial, meddling owner James Dolan. On Day 1, everyone was smiling and optimistic as Jackson’s five-year contract was announced.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Jim Dolan,” Jackson said. “I have gotten to know Jim and he is totally committed to delivering a winner for New York. I started my career as a Knick, and know what it feels like to win in this great city. I take the task of helping to deliver a winning team to our fans seriously, and look forward to combining my vision of the game with Steve Mills’ abilities as a general manager.”
Dolan, for his part, said he isn’t an expert on basketball and was “willingly and gratefully” handing over his authority to Jackson, who faces an enormous task. Promising to move to New York, Jackson will have to determine whether Carmelo Anthony and Coach Mike Woodson returns. And now the rumors and buzz will begin about whether LeBron James might come to New York. It’s quick a step up for the Knicks, who haven’t had a feel-good headline since the Linsanity days.
“The idea of developing a culture is a overwrought word in the NBA right now, but that’s what brought me here,” Jackson said. “Players need to know they are supported by the team and coaching staff.”
He may not be coaching, but he knows what kind of system he likes to see.
“I believe in system basketball,” he said. “I came out of a system here. I believe that’s something we want to accomplish here.”
Four-minute Phil Jackson Knicks highlight reel rolling on main Madison Square Garden Marquee pic.twitter.com/yysg3txMzd— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 18, 2014
Image on ceiling at Phil Jackson/Knicks press conference pic.twitter.com/NgXcDsr3K4— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 18, 2014
So, this is happening. pic.twitter.com/DNurev0w6w— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) March 18, 2014