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Phil Jackson Comes Back to New York

March 19, 2014

James Dolan hires Phil Jackson as Knicks new team president.

James Dolan hires Phil Jackson as Knicks new team president.


By Marc Bussanich 

New York, NY—After more than a 40-year hiatus from New York, Phil Jackson is coming back as the New York Knicks’ team president to try to end the Knicks’ 41-year championship drought. Knicks fans, including Councilmember Jumaane Williams, hope the hiring of Jackson will transform the Knicks into a contender. Video 

After being introduced by James Dolan, Madison Square Garden’s executive chairman, Jackson talked about what will be important to him as the team’s new president.

“There are things I believe that players should have that’s important for them [such as] the security of knowing they’re going to be supported by the organization,” said Jackson. “We want to build also some things that are very important for basketball players—developing a mindset in which focus is a capability and developing a system so that balls are moved, passes are made and people make cuts to create open opportunities for teammates—these are things that are important to me.”

Jackson won two championships as a player with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973. He recalled when he first came to New York and was picked up at JFK Airport by-then Knicks coach Red Holtzman in 1967.

“As we got through the Van Wyck some kid gleaned over the top of a walkway and threw a rock down and cracked the window of his brand new Impala and he said, ‘You know, New York’s not the easiest place to live, but if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’”

Reporters then had the opportunity to question both Dolan and Jackson. Howard Beck of the Bleacher Report asked Jackson, after being out of the game for a couple of years, what contributed to his decision to reenter the game.

After undergoing several surgeries, traveling and the possibility of managing an expansion team in Seattle that didn’t materialize, Jackson decided he wanted to get back into the game but without coaching.

“That was an interest to me to go with an upstart franchise. It never happened, but the idea of being in an executive management position intrigued me. Jim came to me with this opportunity of pick a position you’d like to take and I said, “If I’m going to make this change…then I have to jump in with both feet,’” said Jackson.

New York Times sports reporter, Harvey Araton, asked Jackson whether he expects Carmelo Anthony, who’ll become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, to adapt to Jackson’s playing style.

“Carmelo is approaching 30. Do you see that as an impediment to putting him in either that system or some system different than what he’s been used to playing and how do you think he’d do?”

Jackson said Anthony would do just fine but that he would go back to the basics.

“One of the biggest issues I have at this particular point with NBA basketball is that I see a tremendous amount of footwork incorrectly, sometimes three or four steps before people make…footwork is very important, passing is very important. Those are like junior high school, high school kind of skills that have to be reiterated,” Jackson said.

Long-time Knicks fan and councilmember of District 45, Jumaane D. Williams, is enthusiastic of Jackson’s hiring.

“I’m excited. I’ve been a Knicks fan my entire life. I think the infusion of new energy that Jackson is going to bring is exciting; it shows that we’re serious, we want to win and that 8th spot [8th seed to make the playoffs] is really within reach,” said Williams.

Follow Marc on Twitter marc@laborpress.org

March 18, 2014

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