The Knicks officially named Phil Jackson as their president of basketball operations Tuesday, opening a new era for a franchise that has been perhaps the league's most spectacular disappointment this season.
Jackson met a large media contingent at his Madison Square Garden press conference, joined on stage by MSG chairman James Dolan and Steve Mills, who will stay on as the team's general manager. Here's a rundown of the top quotes delivered by Jackson and Dolan during their press statements and the accompanying question and answer period, which offered plenty of colorful comments.
Phil Jackson on...
THE TASKS AT HAND: "We want to build a team. A team doesn't have an 'I' in it. ... This is a franchise that developed a team back in the 1960s that was consistently playing team basketball for six or seven years. ... The idea of developing a 'culture' is an overwrought word in the NBA right now, but that's the cachet that brought me here."
WHY UNRETIRE? "I went through a series of operations, five. Knees and hips and other things. As a process, I felt that if I came back to full health, that meant being able to play basketball again. It would be active, go to England ... go to Australia, see my old buddy Luc Longley. ... Do the things I tried to to do in 2004 when I took a hiatus as Lakers coach. ... However, I'm not going to play ball again, I'm too old to play and too lame to coach. ... Jim [Dolan] came to me with this opportunity to pick a position you'd like to take. If I want to make this change, I have to jump in with both feet, move to New York and I have to do this job the right way."
RELOCATING COAST TO COAST: "Moving to New York is a big challenge to me because last week it was 80 degrees in L.A. I was looking out at the beach, the water in front of my house. Coming to New York, what was it, 28 degrees when I landed. It's different. There's an energy here that I always remember. ... There will still be ties [in California] but this is where I'm going to establish myself."
THE TRIANGLE: "I know you all know about the vaunted triangle offense and it's been maligned in the last few years, but I believe in system basketball. ... We believe that's what we want to get accomplished going forward. ... I would educate anybody that wants to know the nuances of the triangle, I coached it for 20 years. ... It's a simple offense, it's pretty logical and practical in many ways. [Running the triangle offense] is not an insistence, but I do like a system and a method to playing basketball."
CARMELO ANTHONY: "I have no problems committing to [saying that] Carmelo is in the future plans. ... I think Carmelo, as great of a player as he is, he still has another level he can get to. ... Carmelo has had a load to carry this year. He's been remarkable in that. He showed in the last Olympics, coming off the bench and playing a role as a bench player on a magnificent team, that he can play a role if he has to play a role. He's a basketball player, that's what players want to do, cut, pass, and be in different spots on the court. To attack, to play. I think Carmelo will be just fine."
COACH MIKE WOODSON'S FUTURE: "Mike has shown that he's a very good basketball coach. He's had a difficult season. He's turned this team into a contender for the playoffs. Hopefully he can make that happen. We'll have discussions at the end of the season with Mike going forward."
TIMELINE FOR A TURNAROUND: "We're not anticipating time. We're going to make one step at a time."
THE PROMISE OF 2015: "We're not particularly in the running [for free agents] this year. There's not a great crop that's coming out this particular year. Next year does have a group of guys together. Steve and I are going to work on how to manage the roster and our financials so we can have an impact in that area. We know we need another solid contributor, someone that can score and help Carmelo along."
TITLE VISION: "Championships come with deliberate action. There are very few accidental championships in the NBA. We know that, and we're looking forward to trying to attempt that. [Winning a title] would be a capstone on a remarkable career that I've had."
AN EXAMPLE TO LEARN FROM: "[Former Bulls GM] Jerry Krause, his attitude towards doing this job that I'm charged with doing is the map for me going forward. He was very thorough, he was very comfortable and very committed to finding out information about players that would help create teams that could win."
OLIVE BRANCH TO THE MEDIA: "I'll be accessible. I'll be removed. ... This organization has suffered in the last few years that have been created from press, lack of continuity, and a lack of solidarity. There are going to be some closed walls as far as the media. ... I think we have to accept that. I'm reaching out to you media people today, to say we're going to have an open relationship and a good one. We need your support."
REMEMBERING OLD ADVICE FROM COACH RED HOLZMAN: "New York is not the easiest place to live, but if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. ... We're going to make it here."
James Dolan on...
WHY PHIL? "This is someone who knows about winning, about the importance of a clear vision and how to instill a culture that ensures a team wins, like his team did for the Knicks. Today, that clear vision and culture have come back to New York. Regardless of our record, when you have a chance to get Phil Jackson, you do it. Plain and simple. Welcome home, Phil."
THE POWER STRUCTURE: "In his role as president, Phil will be in charge of all basketball decisions. Steve as general manager will support his efforts to build a consistently winning franchise."
WILL DOLAN RELINQUISH AUTHORITY TO JACKSON? "Willingly and gratefully."
WHY STEP BACK NOW? "I am by no means an expert in basketball. I'm a fan. My expertise lies in managing companies and businesses. 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 awhile. It wasn't necessarily something I wanted to do. As the chairman of the company, I felt obligated to do it. I'm happy now that we have a team of Phil and Steve to do that."
DID DOLAN ASK JACKSON TO COACH THE KNICKS? "We started off there and quickly moved on from there."
NEW YORK'S DISAPPOINTING SEASON: "No one is more frustrated than I am. None of expected to be where we are. The responsibility for the season falls on all of us, including myself."
TICKET PRICES: "It's been a tough year. It's the tradition we've had since we've been with the organization, we will not raise ticket prices for next year. Instead, we'll have a great year next year at the same price, and hopefully everyone will find that product is more valuable, and probably after that we'll raise ticket prices. But not next year."
THE KNICKS' CODE OF SILENCE: "I also understand the concerns that we have not made ourselves available to you about the team's current issues and our plans. The reason for that is that we were working on an answer. We feel that nothing we could have said would have helped."
THE DEAL-BROKER AND FALL GUY: "We're here today because a mutual friend of mine and Phil's, Irving Azoff, invited us to a party at his home back in December. Thank you, Irving. And if this doesn't go well, we'll blame you, OK? But I know it will."
HIS NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH JACKSON: "We married for love."