By Gustavo Braga on July 28, 2014
After the dismal 2013-14 NBA season, haunted by injuries and off-court problems, New York Knicks owner James Dolan hired 11-time champion coach Phil Jackson as the new team president. A guru of basketball and philosophy enthusiast, he came to the Big Apple in order to put things in perspective and completely revamp the franchise, making them once again relevant in the Eastern Conference. Let's take a look at what he's done so far.
After Hall of Fame stints with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson arrived in New York with too much history for the diehard New York fans, who feared he would be too distant and professional for their liking. Jackson soon dismissed all of that by being present at the Garden for home games and embracing his history with the franchise. He speaks like he's always been a Knicks fan and even did the commercial to honor Derek Jeter.
In order to make the franchise relevant in the league, Jackson's first task was to surround himself with a competent coaching staff, and he managed to do just that. Hiring his longtime player Derek Fisher and more importantly Kurt Rambis, he gave the Knicks professionals he trusts will implement the triangle offense but can mentor at the same time. The only reason he does not get a B+ is because of the Steve Kerr pursuit fiasco.
James Dolan is known for preventing his employees from talking to the media and expressing their minds. There was much speculation about how Jackson would handle the scrutiny of the media and address the anxious fans, but once again he surprised us all. Without revealing the franchise's plans, he managed to be transparent and confident during his many interviews. He even did it live at the Summer League, answering questions from Clyde Frazier.
Getting rid of chemistry killer Tyson Chandler and black hole PG Raymond Felton was enough in and of itself, but doing that and getting in return a great point guard and a bunch of prospects was the greatest surprise the Knicks could hope for. He put the franchise in the NBA Draft and might have gotten them the steal of the draft in Cleanthony Early. Jackson showed he not only has the charisma but also the knowledge of the business side.
New York City needs their stars. Derek Jeter, Eli Manning and Henrik Lundqvist are modern day heroes, and keeping Carmelo Anthony on the team while making him take a (slight) pay cut to provide some wiggle room in order to bring another star to the team next summer was Jackson's biggest accomplishment so far. Melo told reporters that if it wasn't for him he would have gone to Chicago. Let's hope this partnership will result in long-term success.
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