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:
Dolan, on ESPN radio, when asked about Phil possibly coaching: “I don’t think that will ever happen. We didn’t bring him in to do that.”— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) March 18, 2014
#Knicks owner James Dolan on bringing in Phil Jackson to run the team: "It's like bringing in Albert Einstein to do your math homework."— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 18, 2014
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:
Dolan, on whether his involvement in the Melo trade spelled the end of Donnie Walsh's tenure: "I prefer to leave that in the past."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 18, 2014
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:
Jim Dolan says "I'm horrified" with the way the Knicks have underachieved this season on ESPN NY 98.7— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) March 18, 2014
At least the Knicks are doing everything in their power to ensure that underachieving is an aberration, not a trend.
Dolan, on fans that dislike him: "My goal isn't to be loved; my goal is to win."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 18, 2014
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:
Dolan says Phil Jackson has full power. If Jackson wanted to let Carmelo walk, Dolan says "It's his decision, that's my agreement with him."— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 18, 2014
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?
I'd guess about 600 people here for Phil Jackson presser, from media to MSG support staff to guests.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) March 18, 2014
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.
That didn't take long. The shelves at the MSG store, ready to make some money. pic.twitter.com/8WIQbjTMk9— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 18, 2014
Dolan: "He is the ideal executive to lead our team and develop short and long term plans that ... result in an NBA championship."— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 18, 2014
Dolan: Phil knows how to build a culture of winning.— Scott Cacciola (@ScottCacciola) March 18, 2014
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:
James Dolan: "When you have a chance to get Phil Jackson to run your team, you do it -- plain and simple. Welcome home, Phil."— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) March 18, 2014
Dolan says he's "willingly and gratefully" is ceding control.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 18, 2014
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:
Phil said he was told in January he would have autonomy.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) March 18, 2014
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:
Dolan: "I am by no means an expert in basketball. I'm a fan."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 18, 2014
Dolan says Jackson will not coach again.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 18, 2014
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.
James Dolan on considering Jackson as a coach: "We started from there and quickly moved on from there."— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) March 18, 2014
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:
Jackson starts by saying that he wants to build a team, and that the word "team" doesn't have the letter "I" in it.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 18, 2014
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:
Phil stresses importance of a ball-movement approach. "I believe in system basketball."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) March 18, 2014
Then the questions turned in the expected direction, centering around whether the incumbents would remain.
First, Phil spoke about Mike Woodson:
Jackson, on whether he'll push for the triangle offense: "It's not an insistence," but he clearly still thinks it can work.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 18, 2014
Phil says he has talked with Mike Woodson and supports him and a run to the playoffs. Also calls NY "the best place to play basketball"— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) March 18, 2014
Then about 'Melo:
Phil Jackson says he will have discussions with Mike Woodson about his future but makes no guarantees that Woodson will be back in 2014-15.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 18, 2014
Phil Jackson on building around Melo: "There's no doubt."— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) March 18, 2014
Phil on Melo: "I have no problem committing in saying Carmelo is in the future plans."— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) March 18, 2014
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.
Phil endorses Carmelo Anthony as part of the plan. "There's another level he can get to."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) March 18, 2014
Jackson is asked of what it'd be mean to potentially win a title: "Wow. You've jumped ahead [in asking that]." But says that's eventual goal— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 18, 2014
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.