The man who had reserve role in the New York Knicks 1973 NBA championship team is now in charge of running the storied but recently beleaguered franchise.
Phil Jackson will join the Knicks as the leader of their front office, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because the agreement has not been made official, but the Knicks have scheduled a news conference Tuesday for a major announcement.
Jackson, one of the NBA’s most successful coaches, has no front-office experience, but wanted back in the league in some capacity and ruled out a return to the bench because of health issues.
He played 12 seasons in the NBA — 11 of them with the Knicks. He averaged 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds a game in the Knicks’ 1972-73 championship season — the last time the franchise won a title. He then had his best year the following season, averaging 11.1 points and 5.8 rebounds a game.
New York and the Knicks are special to Jackson, and now he has a chance to lead the franchise back to respectability and potentially a championship.
If that happened, he would be revered in the three largest cities in the U.S.: Chicago (where he won six championships as the Bulls’ coach in the 1990s), Los Angeles (five titles as the Lakers’ coach in the 2000s) and New York.
“I would want him to view me as a coach,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said on ESPN radio after the announcement was made. “If and when that time comes, I would just love the chance to sit with him and talk basketball. He’s a basketball guy, I’m a basketball guy. This is 30 years I’ve spent in this league, so that’s what we’ll do, but until that happens, my focus is strictly on trying to get this team in the playoffs. That’s it.”
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SOURCE: USA Today