Phil Jackson has been officially hired as president of my New York Knicks, where he won two NBA titles as a player. His deal is for five years and is expected to pay him $12 million annually but does not include an ownership stake.
Good news for Knicks fans everywhere, right?
Well, there are some naysayers. Some folks think Jackson is not ready for life in the front office. A person in Jackson’s position typically puts in several hours a week, and there is talk that Jackson will split time between New York and Los Angeles where his fiancee Jeanie Buss – who should be running the Lakers, not her bumbling brother Jim – resides.
Others wonder why Jackson would want to take on such a challenge. He has more money than he could spend. He has 11 championships and a legacy that second to none, late Celtics’ legendary coach Red Auerbach notwithstanding.
I think Jackson always relished the challenge of running a team. I am willing to bet that Jackson saw the job his old nemesis Pat Riley has done in running the Miami Heat the last decade-plus (two NBA titles as an executive). Jackson would love to challenge Riley and add that to his legacy.
You also have to figure that Jackson has heard enough of the talk of him always walking into ideal situations. After all, the Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen before Jackson arrived. The Lakers had Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant before Jackson arrived there. The thing that those naysayers conveniently forget is this: neither the Bulls and Shaq’s Lakers won titles before Jackson arrived.
Which is why I think the Knicks will greatly benefit from Jackson’s arrival. Not by winning an NBA title right away – my Knicks have WAY too much work to do to get a championship level.
What I mean is that Jackson is a necessary first step in changing what has been a dysfunctional culture in New York. There is a reason that bumbling owner James Dolan gave Jackson that $12 million per year contract – to bring his winning ways to New York as an executive.
There is something to be said about perception. Again, the Knicks will not turn into winners overnight. However, with Carmelo Anthony wanting to test the market as a free agent this summer as well as the free agent bonanza in 2015 with cats like Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving becoming free agents, just the thought of rubbing elbows with Jackson would be enticing. Plus it helps that the Knicks will have enormous cap room in 2015 (Amare Stoudemire’s, Andrea Bargnani’s and Tyson Chandler’s contracts are scheduled to come off the books).
As a diehard Knicks fan, I have been longing for the Knicks to at least get back to their glory years of the 1990s – no NBA titles notwithstanding. I think that Jackson coming back to his old team is a huge step towards bringing the Knicks some much-needed credibility.
Trust me, New York needs all the credibility it can get…