Phil Jackson seeks to recreate magic with the Knicks as their new president
As he was officially unveiled as their president, returning to the team where he started his glittering career, Phil Jackson vowed to revive the struggling New York Knicks.
The 68-year-old Hall of Famer, who has won a record 13 NBA 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," Jackson said during a news conference at Madison Square Garden. "We want to build a team."
Jackson will be trying to recreate the magic he was part of with the Knicks in the 1970s. He was a player for them from 1967 to 1978 - winning two titles - and has been put in charge of all basketball decisions.
"We are looking forward to embracing the past but also looking forward," said Jackson, who 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."
Jackson signed a five-year contract - believed to be worth US$60 million - but wouldn't commit to a timeline on how long it would take to restore the team to winning ways.
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 Los Angeles.
Jackson replaces Steve Mills, who was named president and general manager in September and remains as general manager. Jackson also said head coach Mike Woodson would stay. "There is only one Phil Jackson, and he is synonymous with winning basketball teams," said Knicks owner Jim Dolan, who joined Jackson on the podium for the announcement.
"His history of success in the NBA is unrivalled, 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."
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, however, as they chase the eighth and final play-off spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks are also hoping the hiring of Jackson might help them 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."