Harris DeckerAt Tuesday’s press conference, introducing Phil Jackson as the new Knicks president, I got goosebumps. This wasn’t a one time deal. I got them repeatedly. Every time Jackson took the microphone, you took a small peek inside the mind of one of basketballs most legendary figures. The 13-time NBA Champion knows how to win and he looks like he’s ready to bring that attitude to Madison Square Garden.
The reasons for this marriage between the chaotic and the calm can be analyzed, critiqued and cast aside. What cannot, are the reasons behind it. We learned during the press conference that James Dolan had been talking to Jackson for many months and that this arrangement was a long time in the making. At age 68, Jackson has nothing left to prove. He doesn’t need the money and he certainly doesn’t need to prove to anyone that he’s a winner. He’s here because he loves basketball. He’s here because he loves to win and he’s here to help turn a franchise around. You might question the move but you can’t question Jackson.
Fans have reacted in every way you could imagine. In a poll earlier this week, The Knicks Blog readers expressed an overwhelming excitement for Jackson. Nearly 93 percent of fans were excited. That still leaves seven percent of fans who don’t seem to be impressed. Why would that seven percent not be excited?
Is it a coincidence that this was announced right at the same time that season ticket renewals for the 2014-15 season are due? Of course not! That’s smart business. Jackson being here will sell tickets, but to say that this move was to only to sell tickets is nonsense. This is not a side show or a circus. This is not Tim Tebow signing with the New York Jets. Jackson has nothing left to prove to anyone. He’s not here to make sure you keep buying tickets at the world’s most famous arena. He’s here to win and we are here as witnesses.
What makes sports great is the way things can change. A few weeks ago, Knicks fans were calling for Dolan’s head on a silver platter. While that animosity is still present (yes, I believe the rally is still taking place this evening), it likely shouldn’t. Dolan made the smartest basketball move he’s capable of making. He brought in a maestro of the highest caliber. Over the next few years, we’re going to watch him make move after move to improve a team that we all love and he’ll do it because it’s what he was born to do.
There’s always the chance that things don’t work out. Could Dolan and Jackson have a hard time getting along? Sure. Could agents find Jackson’s management style to be abrasive and misleading? Of course. But Dolan, a man who admitted yesterday that he’s not an expert at basketball, made the right move.
So put away your megaphones and picket signs. Jackson has arrived. While Dolan may still be running Madison Square Garden, there’s a new sheriff in town. He knows how to make the Knicks great again and we, as fans, will have a front row seat to this performance over the next few years. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride.