Skip to main content

A Breath of Fresh Air

Phil Jackson Era begins Tuesday at MSG

There was a positive aura encased in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday morning that hadn't been detected by the thousands to enter its doors over the past few years.

Reporters and cameramen who would normally dread a 10AM commute to MSG were in a cheerful mood. James Dolan was grinning. Even the coffee was good. The coffee's never good.

Phil Jackson, James Dolan, and Steve Mills sat on a stage in Chase Square that faced out toward the MSG exit, a 180-degree difference from the last time this stage was used - in October, for the unveiling of MSG's renovations.

The Knicks had turned in the opposite direction of how they sat that day, with Steve Mills the acting Vice President and General Manager, and James Dolan having the final say regarding all basketball moves.

Dolan stood in front of hundreds today at Madison Square Garden, and thousands more tuning in on the air or online, and announced that Phil Jackson, the new President of the New York Knicks, would be in charge "of all basketball operations."

He didn't just say that in passing, though. He intentionally moved the microphone closer to his mouth and proclaimed it with audacity. James Dolan is giving up control of the team he owns and has failed to suceed with "willingly and gratefully." He admitted he wasn't an expert in basketball. He expressed he was a bit out of his element making basketball decisions for the Knicks. He told Knicks fans he had become tired of falling short, and that he was ready for someone to rescue this ballclub.

It wasn't just any hero; no, it was an 11-time NBA Champion.

Phil Jackson said words that haven't been uttered, apparently, in quite some time around these parts. He spoke of a "logical" offense, and playing "system basketball." The triangle offense, he informed us, wasn't insisted upon with the Knicks, but there would surely be some ways the team changed how they played on both ends of the floor. Jackson mentioned three offensive rebounders during sets on that side of the floor, which indicates the team's going to need an overhaul when it comes to their bigs. Carmelo Anthony has proven this year he can rebound, but Stoudemire & Kenyon Martin can't really satisfy that role. They may be able to get away with that system in their starting lineup, but depth is needed.

It's one area Jackson said he'd be working at, too: the market. He wants to bring in some solid role players and work through the draft, it seemed, with the NCAA Tournament one of his upcoming focuses.

To coaching, Jackson said much while saying little. "[Mike Woodson] has shown he is a very good basketball coach," he said, which seems like a very nice parting comment for Woodson's tumultuous time here. He indicated there will be discussions in the offseason about what to do with Woodson going forward, which made it sound like he will be gone.

He settled the upset stomachs of the Knicks' loyal supporters in these areas, and even said he has "no problems with committing to saying Carmelo [Anthony] is in the future plans."

The zen-master delivered what was expected of him. He stood in front of a sea of anxiety and quieted it with off-the-cuff statements. Exuding confidence and a winning culture, he gave a clear vision of how this organization should look in the coming years.

When have the Knicks ever had any sort of vision?