Phil Jackson shooting for Knicks revival
PHIL Jackson vowed to revive the struggling New York Knicks as he was officially announced as their new president on Tuesday, returning to the team where he started his glittering career.
The 68-year-old Hall of Famer, who has won a record 13 National Basketball Association titles as a player and coach, said his aim was to bring a winning tradition back to New York.
"I am going to jump in with both feet," he said during a news conference at Madison Square Garden. "We want to build a team.
"We're going to take one step at a time. I think that's the most important thing.
"We're going to push this team and, hopefully, push into the play-offs, and see how they really can compete.
"From there on, we'll take it a step at a time as we go forward."
He will be trying to recreate the magic which he was part of with the Knicks in the 1970s.
Jackson, who played for the Knicks from 1967 to 1978, has been put in charge of all basketball decisions. He won two titles as a player with the Knicks, helping them win their most recent NBA crown, in 1973.
"We are looking forward to embracing the past but also looking forward," said Jackson, who has never had a losing season in the NBA as a head coach. "To come back to the place where I started in basketball is a great feeling."
He signed a five-year contract but would not commit to a timeline on how long it would take to restore the team to winning ways. The contract is believed to be worth US$60 million (S$76 million), the New York Daily News reported.
Jackson won 11 NBA titles as a coach, surpassing the previous record of nine set by Red Auerbach.
He retired from coaching in May 2011 after leading the Chicago Bulls to six crowns in the 1990s and then the Los Angeles Lakers to five titles. His last title came in 2010 with the Lakers.
"This would be the pinnacle, a capstone, on the remarkable career that I've had," Jackson said.
He replaces Steve Mills, who was named president and general manager of the Knicks in September. Mills remains as general manager.
Jackson also said head coach Mike Woodson would stay.
This is Jackson's first role as a front-office decision maker.
"There is only one Phil Jackson and he is synonymous with winning basketball teams," said Knicks owner Jim Dolan.
"His history of success in the NBA is unrivaled. 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."
The Knicks are in the midst of a disappointing season after reaching the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference play-offs in 2012-13. Their play has improved of late and they have won six straight games.
The Knicks were 27-40 - four games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final play-off spot in the Eastern Conference, heading into Tuesday's slate of games.
The Knicks are hoping the hiring of Jackson improves the chances they might keep star forward Carmelo Anthony, who is looking at free agency after this season.
"Carmelo is one of the top scorers in the league," Jackson said. "I have no problem saying Carmelo is in the future plans. He still has another level he can go to."
Anthony said before the hiring was made official that he was looking forward to working with Jackson. "He has won a lot. I haven't won yet. I am hoping and planning this all works," Anthony said.