NEW YORK (USA Today) – The life-sized poster showed a picture of Phil Jackson from the 1970s in his New Knicks uniform and the poster read "NY MADE … WELCOME HOME PHIL."
Two TVs played highlights of Jackson's playing days with Knicks.
With that, it was official. Jackson had re-joined the organization, this time as president. He has a five-year contract.
"The idea of developing a culture is a overwrought word in the NBA right now, but that's what brought me here," Jackson said. "Players need to know they are supported by the team and coaching staff."
Jackson then defending the triangle offense he ran as a coach over the years and said the Knicks need to put in some kind of system.
"I believe in system basketball," he said. "I came out of a system here. I believe that's something we want to accomplish here."
Jackson will run and oversee all facets of basketball operations and will report directly to Knicks owner James Dolan.
"In addition to the tremendous respect I have for Phil regarding basketball, over the last several months, I have had the opportunity to get to know him personally, and have developed a high regard for his character and passion as an individual," Dolan said. "I am confident that he and (general manager) Steve Mills have the right combination of complementary skills to make this franchise successful."
Jackson's re-entry into the league after three seasons away from coaching has reinvigorated the directionless Knicks, who have not advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 2000 despite a top-dollar payroll and a number of high-profile acquisitions including Amar'e Stoudemire in 2010 and Carmelo Anthony in 2011.
But as recently as June of 2012 Jackson called the Knicks' roster construction "clumsy" and said "there's just too much work that has to be done with that team."
Even though the 68-year-old Jackson has a record-11 championships as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles, he has no front-office experience and is taking on his greatest challenge: lead the Knicks to their first title since 1972-73 when Jackson was a key reserve on the Red Holzman-coached team.
"Red would've been so pleased to see Phil walk through doors of Madison Square Garden as a member of organization he loved so dearly," Holzman's daughter read in a statement.
Jackson's experience in the front office is less of a concern. Many aspects of the job he probably already knows and other aspects can be learned, especially if he surrounds himself with salary-cap, player-personnel and analytics experts.
The bigger question: will Dolan give Jackson the autonomy to run the club with minimal interference?
Dolan, when asked about giving up control to Jackson, said he is doing so "willingly and gratefully."