MSG chairman James Dolan (left), president Phil Jackson (center) and GM Steve Mills will guide the future of the Knicks. (Nathaniel S. Buter/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Knicks formally announced the hiring of Phil Jackson as their president of basketball operations on Tuesday, introducing the Hall of Fame coach at a Madison Square Garden press conference.
"There is only one Phil Jackson, and he is synonymous with winning basketball teams," MSG chairman James Dolan said in a statement. "His history of success in the NBA is unrivaled, and he is the ideal executive to lead our team and develop short and long term plans that build a successful franchise and result in an NBA championship. That is our only goal, and what our loyal fans deserve."
Jackson, 68, returns to the team that selected him in the 1967 draft and to the city where he was a member of title-winning teams in 1970 and 1973.
This will be the first front-office position of Jackson's storied career, and his first post in the league since he retired as coach of the Lakers in 2011. Jackson will "be in charge of all basketball decisions," according to the club, and he will work alongside Steve Mills, who rejoined the Knicks last fall and will remain on as general manager. Dolan, who has been accused of meddling over the years, told reporters that he was "willingly and gratefully" ceding authority to Jackson.
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“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Jim Dolan," Jackson said in a statement. "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.”
Jackson confirmed to reporters that he signed a five-year agreement with the Knicks. ESPN.com reports that the deal is expected to pay him $12 million per year.
Although Jackson has been living in California and his fiancee, Jeanie Buss, is a Lakers executive, Jackson said he plans to relocate to New York to meet the demands of his new positions.
"This is where I'm going to establish myself," Jackson told reporters, joking that it was a "big challenge" to leave the Southern California sun.
Jackson said he will support coach Mike Woodson through the balance of the 2013-14 season as the Knicks (27-40) make a run at the East's No. 8 playoff spot. He called Woodson a "very good basketball coach" and said that "discussions" about his future would take place at the end of the season.
Stressing his believe in "system basketball," Jackson said that Carmelo Anthony, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, is in New York's "future plans." He added that he believes the 29-year-old Anthony, a nine-time All-Star, "still has another level to get to" with his game.
In 20 years as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers, Jackson went 1,155-485 (.704). He ranks fifth all time in regular-season victories and he never missed the playoffs, winning six titles with the Bulls and five more with the Lakers. Jackson ranks first in postseason victories (229) and winning percentage (.688, 229-104) and he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
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