By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Phil Jackson’s turbulent three-year stint as team president of the New York Knicks ended on Wednesday with the 71-year-old having failed to revive the once-proud club.
Jackson, already a Hall of Fame member after winning a record 11 NBA titles as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, was touted as a savior but never came close to delivering the Knicks their first championship since 1973.
Instead, his tenure will be remembered most for his clashes with leading players and team officials, contract blunders and an insistence on running a complex offensive system known as the triangle offense.
“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” Knicks Executive Chairman Jim Dolan said in a statement.
He added that Knicks General Manager Steve Mills would run the day-to-day business of the organization over the short term.
The front-office change means Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by Jackson in the last off season, should have more freedom with running the team should he remain in his role.
Jackson has recently been making headlines for a difference in opinion regarding the future of 10-times All-Star Carmelo Anthony’s future with the team.
He had also been listening to trade offers for Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis, who is considered by many to be the future of the franchise.
NO QUICK FIX
Jackson, a link to the Knicks’ glory days as a defensive-minded role player on teams that won two NBA titles in the early 1970s, moved to New York for his first front-office job three years after retiring from coaching.
He was introduced at a packed news conference at Madison Square Garden, the team’s home arena, where he said there would be no quick fix, adding there was much work to do in reshaping a team that has relied heavily on the scoring of Anthony.
In their three full seasons under Jackson, the Knicks have failed to produce a winning campaign and their record over that dismal span is among the worst in the NBA.
“The New York Knicks will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Jackson. “This team and this town launched my NBA career. I will forever be indebted to them. I am grateful to Mr Dolan for giving me the opportunity to return here.
“I had hoped, of course, to bring another NBA championship to the Garden.
“As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren’t able to do that. New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best – today and always.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Ken Ferris)