A part of the Knicks' rich past has come home, as Phil Jackson, winner of two NBA titles as a player with the Knicks and 11 as a coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, has come back to the team that first drafted him in 1967 to be the team's president. NY1's Budd Mishkin filed the following report.
On his first day back with the Knicks, Phil Jackson was looking forward, but his past with the team, a glorious past, was never far away.
"There's no better place to win than in New York City," Jackson said. "It really is something that's special."
There is no questioning Phil Jackson's basketball pedigree, but there are other legitimate questions. How much time will a 68-year-old man with health issues and a family life in California actually spend in New York?
"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, got to move to New York, and I got to do this job the right way," he said.
There were no bold pronouncements, but Jackson did expand on the role of Carmelo Anthony, a free agent this summer, under the Phil Jackson system.
"I have no problems with committing to saying Carmelo is in the future plans," he said. "I think that a number of things I see Carmelo doing as he moves forward, and I said, I think I was on record a year ago, that I think 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."
Jackson has always been known for speaking his mind. He's not one to be muzzled. For more than a decade, as ticket prices have increased and the Knicks have remained mediocre, the Garden's mantra for its team executives has essentially been the less said publicly, the better. How will these two seemingly opposite cultures, one open, one closed, co-exist?
"I'm reaching out to you today, the media people, to say we're going to have an open relationship and we're going to have a good one," Jackson said.
Q: Is that an accurate portrayal of what's going on here, that you're ceding authority to someone else?
James Dolan, MSG Chairman: Willingly and gratefully.
The Knicks have hired Phil Jackson for what he can do for them in the future, and yet, for anyone who saw the greatest Knick team of all, the Knicks of the late '60s and early '70s, Phil Jackson is a link to that era. For those people, this is nothing less than a historic day.