The Zen Master has arrived in New York City. It took many years for Phil Jackson to return to the New York Knickerbockers in some sort of capacity, and could not have come at a better time for the franchise as they go through one of the most disappointing seasons in the history of the Knicks.
"There's no better place to win than New York city," said Jackson, who was officially introduced as the team's president at a news conference Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. " Now to come back to where I’ve started in basketball, it’s a great feeling,” Jackson said.
Jackson confirmed that he is working on a five-year contract that will reportedly pay him at least $12 million a year. He didn't waste time on what he intends to do with the troubled Knicks.
" We want to build a team, " said Jackson. "A team doesn't have an "I" in it This is a franchise that developed a team back in the 60's that was consistently playing team basketball for seven, eight years and won a couple of championships that can attest to that."
Jackson was a member of the Knicks’ championship-winning teams in 1970 and 1973, but the team has not won since and have made only two Finals appearances. Jackson went on to become one of the most successful coaches in sports history, winning 11 championships with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
He also shared some of his Zen like methods and approach when talking about what he envisions as the culture of the Knickerbockers.
“I believe in system basketball” Jackson said. " Developing a health record in which injuries are limited. Developing a mindset in which focus is a capability. Developing system where balls move, passes are made, and people make cuts to give open opportunities for teammates. These are things that are important to me."
Jackson also touched on the team’s rocky relationship with the media, and indicated that he will not shy away from the media the way GM Steve Mills or Owner James Dolan have done during this troubled season.
“I’ll be accessable,” Jackson said, adding that there will still be walls between the club and the people who cover it. “I’m reaching out to say to you today that we’ll have an open relationship and a good one.
Jackson will report to Dolan, the Knicks said. However, Dolan said that Jackson will make " All Basketball decisions" as President of the team. He also said that he was “willingly and gratefully” giving up control of the Knicks, now that he has someone that has won 13 NBA championships
“I am by no means an expert in basketball,” Dolan said, “I admit I am a little bit out of my element,” when it comes to making personnel decisions with the Knickerbockers.
“When you get the chance to have Phil Jackson run your team you do it, plain and simple,” Dolan said.
One of the first big decisions that await Jackson is the impending free agency of Carmelo Anthony. Anthony, who has a player option for this summer, can sign a deal with New York that is worth $33 million more than any contract he can sign with another team. He has said that his first priority is to re-sign with the Knicks, but he would like to sit down with Jackson and discuss the team's plans for the future before making a decision.
"I have no problem committing in saying Carmelo is in the future plans," Jackson said.
Jackson indicated that Anthony is part of his future plans, and believes that Anthony can still take his game to another level.
“There’s no doubt about Carmelo being one of the top scorers in the league, maybe the best individual isolation player in the game,” Jackson said. “I have no problems with committing to saying Carmelo is in the future plans.
“I think there are a number of things I see Carmelo doing as he moves forward. And I think I was on record saying 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.”
On Monday, Anthony said that he was willing to change his game if Jackson wanted him to if it meant winning championships.