Jackson takes over Knicks looking to instill a vision of culture and continuity


VIDEO: Phil Jackson explains what it would be like to bring the Knicks a title

NEW YORK – The New York Knicks need fixing, and Phil Jackson is as good a candidate to make them better as anybody. With 13 NBA championship rings, he obviously knows what it takes to win. And in his 20 years of coaching the Bulls and Lakers, he’s dealt with superstars and role players, and he’s brought out the best in them.

There are plenty of questions as Jackson takes over the Knicks as team president and most of them remain unanswered after his introductory press conference at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. He did say that Carmelo Anthony is “in the future plans,” but obviously wouldn’t say much of anything regarding Mike Woodson‘s future.

It’s clear though that Jackson understands that fixing the Knicks won’t happen overnight. When asked about what it would mean to bring the Knicks another championship, he admitted that was a “long ways away.” He knows that the franchise’s biggest problem over the last several years has been a lack of patience and continuity.

Since Jeff Van Gundy left in 2001, the Knicks’ longest-tenured coach has been Mike D’Antoni, who first oversaw two years of tearing down the roster and was dismissed less than two seasons into his real tenure, which included an Amar’e Stoudemire-led squad, the Anthony trade, the addition of Tyson Chandler, the emergence of Jeremy Lin, and no continuity whatsoever.

In his playing days with the Knicks, Jackson’s coach was Red Holzman, who was on the bench for more than nine seasons (and then came back for 3 1/2 more after a hiatus). Jackson, who used the word “continuity” early in the press conference, clearly believes the Knicks played the right way back then.

“This is a franchise that developed a team back in the 60s that was consistently playing team basketball for seven, eight years,” Jackson said.

Jackson wants team players. He brought up the “there’s no I in team” cliche and the thought of “building a culture” less than 30 seconds after taking the podium. But he knows that he can’t exactly flush the roster of its J.R. Smiths right away. He sees 2015, when the Knicks will have cap space and a strong free agent class to shop, as his chance to truly make an impact on the roster.

“Next year does have a group of guys together,” Jackson said. “Steve [Mills] and I are going to work on how to manage the roster and our financials so that we can have an impact in that area. We need another solid contributor.

“We’re looking forward to it, but we’re not losing sight of the fact that we are in a game-to-game basis in this business, that we want to provide a team that’s talented, a team that people will want to come and watch, and a team that’s truly competitive.”

Mills is the general manager who was brought back to MSG (he previously worked on the business side) at the beginning of the season, and who is tasked with helping Jackson deal with some of the grind (like dealing with agents) of his new job.

“I think that we have a teamwork situation here,” Jackson said, “that’s going to be really quite swift and capable of making some important changes as we move forward. And I hope my vision will stimulate that.”

And James Dolan? Well, the owner, who reportedly meddled in the Anthony trade negotiations in 2011, said that he’s “willingly and gratefully” ceding control of basketball decisions.

“I am by no means an expert at basketball,” Dolan said. “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 necessarily something that I wanted to do, but as the chairman of the company, I felt obligated to do. And I’m happy now that we have the team of Phil and Steve to do that. And my whole job here now is about supporting them in winning a championship. And that’s a lot easier than what I’ve had to do in the past.”

Jackson said that he “wouldn’t be here” if he didn’t have control. And by “be here,” he says that he will be moving to New York, though family and medical ties will take him back to Los Angeles periodically.

“I have to jump in with both feet,” he said. “I got to move to New York, and I got to do this job the right way.”

That doesn’t mean that he’ll traveling all over the world to scout college and international games.

“I really want to focus on NBA teams,” Jackson said. “There are players that are on benches that are going to be available, maybe not in high-price contracts, that can come in and assist and help build a team. So there are a variety of ways in which we think we can build talent.”

If he has the right staff around him, whether Jackson is at an Iowa-Wisconsin game in January probably doesn’t matter. His job is to guide the franchise in the right direction and provide the continuity and patience that the franchise needs.

“It could be a wonderful opportunity to do something that I love,” Jackson said, “and that’s be with a basketball team and hopefully create a team that loves each other, plays with each other.

11 Comments

  1. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Adding Phil Jackson (and probably overpaying him) will ease the pain when Camelo Anthony leaves the Knicks after the Knicks fail to make the playoffs for the first time in probably a long time.

    When was the last time the New York Knicks failed to make the playoffs? Wow. I thought they had a slim chance, but after losing to the Cavs at home, it doesn’t look likely now. They HAD to win almost all the rest of their games just to make this season’s playoffs. It’s over.

    Melo can make the excuse, now, that: “oh, I may be leaving, but (sarcastically) you still have Phil Jackson.”

    In reality, once Carmelo leaves for a contender like OKC, Phil Jackson won’t help at all. He can only win or be part of a winning organization when he has superstars. He has no idea how to rebuild. It’s over for the Knicks for the next few seasons.

    Here’s what’s going to happen also: Phil Jackson will, then, be exposed as incredibly overrated. He came to the Knicks when they’re struggling. Once Melo leaves, the Knicks are doomed. Anyone can win when you have certain superstars on your team. Phil Jackson is overrated. He ruined his reputation by becoming a manager of the Knicks.

  2. jave says:

    Culture… continuity … knicks? LMFAO!!

  3. patrickmarc says:

    Phil Jackson should go back to Lakers, we could appreciate what this magician is really able to do.

    I am not a basket ball trainer, but give me players like Melo, Love, Westbrook, Curry, Wall, Ibaka and Howard,
    and everybody will call me new Zen Master may be, and I will accept it, for free, because many people feel better with a true guru.

  4. okc2014 says:

    I’m actually glad for the Knicks. And unlike other teams I know, at least they are being proactive. Keep it new and fresh! And I really don’t care if Carmello stays or goes. Cause I think Phil Jackson has a plan….

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I don’t. Phil Jackson doesn’t know how to manage a nonplayoff team like today’s Knicks.

      Carmelo Anthony HAS TO join OKC As Soon As Possible — ASAP. If he’s serious about wanting to win as much as possible, OKC is his best option. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. Anyone who thinks he may join the Bulls has NO IDEA what they’re talking about. The Bulls are still good, but their future is bleak.

      Melo has to join the young and elite OKC Thunder, a Championship-caliber team for the next 15+ seasons / years.

      Plus, Russell Westbrook will be healthy for a very, very long time. That dirty play Kyle Lowry made during that EPIC double-overtime Toronto/OKC game (possible 2014 NBA Finals preview) did not stop Westbrook. That was like a test proving Westbrook is in no danger of any re-injury. He has totally recovered and will help the Thunder win it all.

      The NBA needs to start handing down fines/punishments to players who try to injure other players on purpose. This is getting ridiculous. Coaches needs to tell their players to play the game the right way. Don’t tell your players to “sweep the leg” (Karate Kid reference). It won’t work on Westbrook, anyway, so don’t even try it anymore. Stop aiming for his knee, Kyle Lowry and Patrick Beverley. STOP. Have some professional decorum.

      “Sweep the leg.” “You have a problem with that?” “No, sensei.” “No mercy.”

      Sorry, fellas, this isn’t the Karate Kid. I have a huge problem when players try to re-injure other players on purpose.

      Kyle Lowry and Pat Beverly. ALL YOU’VE DONE with your bushleague gameplay is motivated Westbrook and the Thunder that much more to stomp the rest of the NBA for the next 15+ years. Thank you.

  5. lol says:

    Nothing can save the Knicks, Jackson is doing this to get more money, his mission is accomplished now, the Knicks simply have no hope unless Lebron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Love get traded there.

    • sports fan says:

      Phil’s not doing this for the money, he already has enough of it. He loves New York & is happy to be back where he started. You can see it in his body language & attitutde at the press conference. Give him a few years and we’ll all see a huge difference. Players will now want to go play for Phil more than Kobe, LeBron, and anyone else. And by the way, when Kevin Love’s contract is up after next season there’s a good possibility he can end up in New York.

  6. lbj says:

    he’s not getting a ring unless that vision includes joining our King “Lebron” !!

  7. bballjunkie1 says:

    Woodson has an opportunity to be a part of staff he is dress rehearsing now by getting into playoffs.Big picture Kerr is mentioned because he’s not fond of self absorbed types Spo, Mike Brown. Byron Scott may be a possibility, although Mark Jackson is more of his style. Player wise this will be more exciting than the playoffs. Good luck to all but as a bball junkie next 2 seasons will be a blast. Don’t be surprised if New York doesn’t run deep next season just takes another anchor or two as they drop those pricy contracts from under achievers off payroll.