PHIL Jackson, who won a record 11 NBA titles as a coach, announced Wednesday (US time) his resignation as New York Knicks president of basketball operations by mutual agreement with team owner Jim Dolan.
The move came after Dolan and Jackson discussed the future direction of the Knicks, who have struggled since Jackson took over in March 2014, nearly three years after his retirement from coaching. US media reported the move as Jackson being fired.
Jackson’s tenure was marked by a number of questionable trade moves, a running spat with Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony and recently the shock announcement that rising star Kristaps Porzingis was on the trade block.
“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” Dolan said.
“Phil Jackson is one of the most celebrated and successful individuals in the history of the NBA. His legacy in the game of basketball is unmatched. We wish him the best and thank him for his service to the Knicks as both a player and an executive.”
Jackson was a power forward on Knicks championship teams in 1970 and 1973, although he missed the first of those title-winning campaigns after spinal fusion surgery.
As a coach, Jackson guided the Michael Jordan-powered Chicago Bulls to six titles in the 1990s and the Los Angeles Lakers to five more.
But he could not turn around the club where he spent most of his playing days.
“The New York Knicks will always hold a special place in my heart,” Jackson said. “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.”
Phil Jackson is gone from the Knicks.
Jackson, 71, could not revive a Knicks team that has not had a winning record since 2013, when the club won its only playoffs series since 2000.
The Knicks went 37-45 in 2013-14 but since then have had season marks of 17-65, 32-50 and 31-51 in 2016-17 with trade rumors constantly surrounding star Carmelo Anthony as losses mounted in iconic Madison Square Garden.
“I had hoped, of course, to bring another NBA championship to the Garden,” Jackson said. “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.”
Phil Jackson and Knicks team owner James Dolan.
Dolan said he will not be involved in operating the Knicks.
“While we are currently evaluating how best to move forward regarding the leadership of the organization, I will not be involved in the operation of the team,” Dolan said.
“Steve Mills, the team’s general manager, will run the day-to-day business of the organization over the short term.”
Tim Leiweke, a former executive for the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors ownership groups, will advise the Knicks in the interim on moving forward.