NEW YORK — Phil Jackson has returned to the New York Knicks as their team president.
The Knicks announced Jackson’s hiring today at a news conference in the lobby of Madison Square Garden, where a giant sign reading “Welcome Home Phil” was overhead and shirts with the No. 18 Jackson wore as a player lined the racks in the merchandise store.
Jackson signed a five-year contract that will reportedly pay him at least $12 million annually and said he will spend significant time in New York.
“This is the best place to play basketball,” he said.
Jackson was a member of the Knicks’ championship-winning teams in 1970 and 1973, but they haven’t won a title since. Jackson went on to become the league’s most successful coach, winning 11 championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.
This will be his first time as an executive and the Knicks say he will be in charge of all basketball decisions. Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan said he “willingly and gratefully” is stepping back to give Jackson the power to make the changes the franchise needs.
Steve Mills will remain as general manager.
It’s the second front-office reorganization in six months for the Knicks, who surprisingly fired GM Glen Grunwald days before the start of training camp. Mills replaced him even though he had no previous experience running the basketball side.