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Reaction: Phil Jackson era begins

3/18/2014

NEW YORK -- James Dolan called it a historic day for the New York Knicks.

The Phil Jackson era began with a lengthy news conference that included the Zen Master and the Knicks owner laughing it up and joking about how their new basketball marriage is one of love.

Here are some quick takeaways from the Jackson news conference:

Dolan takes a backseat: Dolan made it clear that he is “willingly and gratefully” giving authority on basketball decisions to Jackson. Phil said he would not have come for anything less.

Dolan said the reason he had made basketball decisions previously was he felt the need to as Madison Square Garden chairman.

“I am by no means an expert in basketball,” Dolan said. “I’m a fan, but my expertise lies in managing companies and new businesses. So I think I’m a little out of my element when it comes to the team. I’ve found myself in a position where I’ve needed to be more a part of the decision making for a while. It wasn’t something necessarily that I wanted to do. But as chairman of the company, I felt obligated to do it.

“I’m happy now that we have the team of Phil and Steve [Mills] to do that, and my whole job here now is supporting them to win a championship. That’s a lot easier than what I’ve had to do in the past.”

Dolan said the reason he and Mills have been quiet up to now is because they have been trying to figure out a way to turn the Knicks around. He has been incredibly frustrated with the underachieving this season.

Phil’s plan: Jackson didn’t come out and detail a plan to turn the Knicks around. But he did give us insight to his vision of what he wants the Knicks to look like.

He repeatedly mentioned that he wants the Knicks to play system and team basketball.

“We want to build some things that are very important to basketball players -- developing a health record in which injuries are limited,” Jackson said. “Developing a mindset in which focus is a capability. Developing a system so that balls can move, passes are made and people make cuts and create open opportunities for teammates. These are things that are important to me.”

“I know you all know about the vaunted triangle offense; it has been maligned in the past few years,” he added. “But I believe in system basketball.”

Jackson said he will move to New York and that while he is not the type to sit in the rafters and scout talent, he will be doing some of that.

“Whether I fly to Serbia and watch somebody in Kiev ... oh, that's in Ukraine, maybe I won't go there,” he cracked.

Phil on Melo: Jackson says he wants Carmelo Anthony back. Anthony will opt out of his contract and become a free agent.

Jackson made it clear Anthony is part of his future plans but he also labeled the Knicks' All-Star as a great “individual isolation player.”

“There’s no doubt about Carmelo being one of the top scorers in the league, maybe the best individual isolation player in the game,” Jackson said. “I have no problems with committing to saying Carmelo is in the future plans.

“I think there are a number of things I see Carmelo doing as he moves forward. And I think I was on record saying a year ago that I think Carmelo, as great a player as he is, still has another level he can go to. And I hope together, with the team we create, he can get there.”

Anthony, who was not seen at the news conference, said Monday he is willing to alter his game if Jackson asks him to in order to win a championship.

Jackson said the Knicks need to get another major contributor to help Melo.

“The fact that we’re going to have to go out and work the bushes for players this next year, we’re going to have to work the coming years as we go forward when we do get draft picks and we have a chance to build this team,” Jackson said. “Those are the things I think are very important to attract and to also ferret out players who really want to play the type of ball that we want them to play here at Madison Square Garden.”

Jackson on Woody: Jackson also said he has spoken to coach Mike Woodson and plans to sit down with him after the season to discuss his future.