New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Knicks named Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson president of basketball operations on Tuesday.
The move was expected after reports surfaced last week that Knicks owner Jim Dolan set his sights on Jackson for the position and was aggressive in getting the deal done.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Jim Dolan," said Jackson in a statement released by the team. "I have gotten to know Jim and he is totally committed to delivering a winner for New York. I started my career as a Knick, and know what it feels like to win in this great city."
Jackson, a player with the Knicks from 1967-78, retired from coaching in May 2011 after leading the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to a combined 11 NBA titles. He guided the Bulls to six championships, many times eliminating his former team along the way. Later, he led the Lakers to five titles, the last coming in 2010.
Financial terms of the five-year deal were not announced and Jackson, who said he would be moving to New York for this position, wouldn't commit to a timeline on how long it would take to turn around the Knicks, who are currently 13 games under .500, haven't won an NBA title since 1973 and last made the NBA Finals in 1999.
"We're not anticipating time. We're going to make one step at a time. I think that's the most important thing. We're going to push this team and, hopefully push into the playoffs, and see how they really can compete and make decisions from there. From there on, we'll take it a step at a time as we go forward."
At his retirement press conference in May 2011, Jackson said his plans didn't include coaching in the NBA in the future. He never said anything about a front office position, a role he has never previously held.
"There is only one Phil Jackson, and he is synonymous with winning basketball teams," said Dolan. "His history of success in the NBA is unrivaled, and he is the ideal executive to lead our team and develop short and long term plans that build a successful franchise and result in an NBA championship. That is our only goal, and what our loyal fans deserve."
Dolan also admitted Tuesday that he is pulling away from the day-to-day operations of the team with the hiring of Jackson.
"Willingly and gratefully," Dolan said at Tuesday's press conference about giving Jackson the decision-making authority.
"My whole job now is supporting them (Jackson and GM Steve Mills) in winning a championship and that's a lot easier then what I have done in the past," added Dolan, who admitted he's not a basketball expert and felt obligated to take on more responsibility in the past because he felt he had to.
Jackson now takes over the top job from Steve Mills, who was given the position of president and general manager just this past September. Mills will stay on as general manager.
"I take the task of helping to deliver a winning team to our fans seriously, and look forward to combining my vision of the game with Steve Mills' abilities as a general manager," said Jackson.
Jackson was an integral part of the Knicks' last NBA title in 1973 and after becoming one of the best head coaches of his generation, Knicks fans salivated at the chance to have Jackson run the team. Now, they get that wish, but not as head coach.
"I have something to say that is important for the fans to hear," said Jackson at the press conference on Tuesday, "we want to build a team."
"Carmelo is in the future plans," Jackson later added about star Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony's future with the team is in question. The forward has an opt-out in his contract after this season and his past relationship with Jackson is thought of something that could sway Anthony to opt out. In the past, Jackson was critical of Anthony's game.
Jackson also said that head coach Mike Woodson would stay with the team and be considered as the team moves forward.
The Knicks are in the midst of a disappointing season after reaching the semifinals of the Eastern Conference playoffs last spring.
However, the club is currently riding a six-game win streak and enters Tuesday's action four games behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot with a 27-40 record.
New York takes the court again on Wednesday night at home against Eastern Conference-leading Indiana.