It’s official. The most successful coach in NBA history–Phil Jackson– has returned to the NBA as the new President of Operations for the New York Knicks.
There has been talk for a couple years that Phil Jackson was interested in returning to the NBA. Many thought that it would be with the Los Angles Lakers. It would have made sense since he is engaged to Jeanie Buss–daughter of the owner of the Lakers–but they didn’t make an offer; at least not one he was open to. The Knicks on the other hand did.
From the sound of things Jackson got exactly what he wanted (besides a huge payday, $60 million over 5-years)–complete control. How do we know this? In an interview Tuesday Knicks owner Jim Dolan said in regards to the team’s best player, Carmelo Anthony, “It’s his decision, that’s my agreement with him.”
It’s an executive’s dream–absolute authority. He can do what he thinks is needed to win, and does not have to worry about interference from the owner or anyone else.
So if the team wins he can lay claim to the credit, but if the team loses the blame will be all his as well. That’s good, because with the team in shambles this season he is going to have his work cut out for him to turn the franchise around.
But why take the challenge on? He’s 68; not exactly a spring chicken anymore. He’s about to get married and his wife will likely need to live on the West Coast. More importantly why take the chance that he is going to mess up his legacy.
With 11 titles as a coach and two as a player he has the most NBA Championship rings in the history of the league. His name is synonymous with winning. In New York–and without coaching–there is no telling if that will be the case.
In Chicago and Los Angeles he had one of the best players in the NBA on the roster (Michael Jordan in Chicago and Kobe Bryant in New York). Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in the league today, but he is not in the same league as Jordan or Bryant. Even though Jackson has said he sees Anthony being an important part of the future Anthony could still decide to move on after this season.
That being said, with great risk does come great reward. Should he be as successful as he hopes he could become just the second person in the history of major North American sports to win a championship as a player, coach, and executive.