UPDATE on Tuesday, March 18 at 4:30 pm ET by Adam Fromal
He provided much of the same material, but there were a few notable updates and more-detailed segments.
Most notably, Dolan continued to give an impression that he wouldn't keep up with his meddlesome ways:
He's shown nothing but respect for Jackson's basketball mind, and it has to be good news that a basketball mind will be the one making decisions—even the big ones. Speaking of basketball minds, though, Dolan wouldn't speak about whether the Carmelo Anthony trade led to Donnie Walsh's termination:
Maybe I'm reading between the lines too much, but that seems to be a tacit admission that it might have.
Finally, there's just no escaping the futility of the 2013-14 season:
At least the Knicks are doing everything in their power to ensure that underachieving is an aberration, not a trend.
Dolan might end up both winning and being loved if this move with Phil works out for the best.
--End of update--
The Phil Jackson era of New York Knicks basketball has officially begun.
During a press conference that was broadcast live on SportsCenter, Jackson was introduced as the president of the team, a man who would "be in charge of all basketball decisions," per Newsday.com's Al Iannazzone.
As you might expect, this felt like a momentous occasion. The sheer scale of the crowd gave some indication of that right from the get-go:
Additionally, the Knicks made no pretenses when it came to marketing. This was an attention-grabbing hiring as well as a great move from a basketball perspective.
When was the last time you saw gear with an executive's name on the back?
James Dolan, the much-maligned owner of the Knicks who has been far too involved in the building of this team, introduced Jackson at the start of the press conference, and he left no doubt that he viewed this as a positive move.
It's hard to disagree with any of that, especially since Dolan later told the assembled masses that he was "willing and gratefully" ceding control to the new hire:
All you have to do is take a gander at Phil's collection of rings. His resume is absolutely unbelievable, and he brings an entirely new level of credibility to the New York organization.
Later on, Dolan was asked once more about ceding control, and he gave an answer that surely left all Knicks fans either chuckling or shaking their heads in disbelief:
And of course, there was one question on everyone's mind: Will Phil coach again?
According to Dolan, the answer is a rather definitive no:
Jackson's health and unwillingness to travel excessively both play a part in that decision, and it would require an abrupt about-face if he were to step onto the sidelines at any point in the near future.
But when it was the new president's turn to take the podium, he left no doubt that he planned on changing the mentality of this team.
Carmelo Anthony has been the poster boy of the isolation style of basketball while Kobe Bryant rehabs his knee injury, but that's probably not going to fly for much longer. Even though 'Melo has played that way out of necessity and it's hard to blame him for the Knicks' failures in 2013-14, changes are coming.
The very first thing relevant Jackson said after he was officially introduced was an old maxim:
And he continued by stressing the importance of team basketball:
Does that mean the vaunted triangle offense is going to be employed immediately? Not necessarily, though Phil is quite clearly still a supporter of the system he helped popularize:
Then the questions turned in the expected direction, centering around whether the incumbents would remain.
First, Phil spoke about Mike Woodson:
Then about 'Melo:
The timing of this is interesting, seeing as ESPN's Stephen A. Smith (h/t Hoopshype.com) made a rather bold claim on First Take the same day, reporting that 'Melo would not be coming back:
I was told this last week, I was told a few days ago, I had it reiterated to me by somebody I trust yet again this morning, that Carmelo Anthony is gone, he is leaving New York city. There are those like myself who still hold up the possibility that that may not be true (...) but for what I'm being told, he is gone. And he is gone because he's at the mindset that in order to achieve any amount of success he would had to sacrifice not just this this year but next year as well, because of this current roster.
Regardless of whether Anthony and Woodson are returning for the 2014-15 campaign, the ultimate goal of the Jackson hire is to bring a championship back to Madison Square Garden.
For those of you who might not remember, the last time this franchise earned a championship was when Jackson was involved, except he was suiting up and stepping onto the court as a player. Yes, it came back in 1973, well before the Zen Master began his legendary coaching career.
That doesn't mean hope is dead, especially now that Phil is at the helm.
It may take a while. There may be failures.
But with Jackson running the show for the Knicks, anything can happen. And if the rest of his tenure as president of the organization is as entertaining as the opening presser, we're in for quite a show over the next few years.
The Zen Master looked quite comfortable on the stage in his new role, and his answers were both measured and off-the-cuff, which is something new for the Knicks. While no definitive answers were given about the team's future, it already seems as though the franchise is in good hands.
Take it away, Phil.
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