Phil Jackson Joins the Knicks, Says “We Have a Great Chance”

The Knicks welcomed Phil Jackson back to the franchise as team president Tuesday, calling him "one of the most admired and successful basketball minds" who knows how to win.

Jackson has signed a five-year contract and said he will spend significant time in New York, but allowed that his family and other personal connections remain in Los Angeles.  

Jackson was on the Knicks' only two championship-winning teams, in 1970 and 1973, before retiring as a player in 1980. He went on to win 11 more rings as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.

On hand for the announcement were Jackson's former teammates, Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Dick Barnett.

"Welcome back to where it all started, your original home in the NBA," said team owner Jim Dolan.

Jackson said he was eager to build the team and said the Knicks had suffered from a lack of continuity and solidarity in recent years.

"As we go forward, we have a great chance and a great opportunity," he said.

Some players said last week they are confident Jackson can be a winner as an executive.

"Phil knows what to do and how to build teams and how to win, that's the most important thing," Carmelo Anthony said. "When you know how to win, whether you're a coach or whether you're in the front office, that stands out."

Jackson will be responsible for trying to keep Anthony — if that's what he wants — when the All-Star forward becomes a free agent this summer. He also will have to decide whether Mike Woodson remains as coach after leading the Knicks to the Atlantic Division title last season but only a 27-40 record so far in this one.

Woodson said he doesn't feel he has to prove anything to Jackson in the final weeks of the season, though is aware some changes will be coming.

"When someone new comes in, he has his own thought process and philosophy in terms of how he feels and how the shape of the team should be, and until he gets here you just have no idea what he's thinking and which direction he wants to go," Woodson said.

The Knicks play the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. If the Knicks make it into the playoffs, the Pacers would likely be their opponent in the first round.

Before heading out west next week for a five-game road trip, the Knicks have two more winnable games when they take on the 76ers Friday and play Cleveland at home Sunday night.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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