While most New York Knicks fans were jumping for joy and swinging from chandeliers after the Phil Jackson news became official, I wasn’t quite there. Although I so desperately wanted to be giddy as hell, I remained unconvinced that the Zen Master’s arrival as President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks would suddenly make things all better. As I said before, my skepticism had nothing to do with Phil Jackson and everything to do with James Dolan. So, for me, yesterday’s press conference was an opportunity for Dolan to change my perception of him, and make me a believer.
To find love in a hopeless place, it was important I hear Dolan admit that he didn’t know what the hell he was doing for the past 15 years. I needed Dolan to go on record as saying that he was willing to step back and put the team in Jackson’s hands. I needed assurances that Jackson would indeed have the autonomy to make decisions and take the team in the direction he thought best. If Dolan publicly admitted all of this, then I’d open my eyes a bit wider and see this as more than just another high profile hiring and headline grabbing move by the Knicks.
And to my pleasant surprise, Dolan did. He said all of it and more. Here are a few Dolan quotes from Marc Berman’s New York Post article:
Dolan said he “willingly and gratefully’’ will take a step back and let the Zen Master do his thing. Jackson has won 11 coaching titles and two as a Knicks power forward.
“The two gentlemen to my left are the experts in basketball,’’ Dolan said. “I by no means am an expert in basketball. My expertise lies in managing companies. I think I’m a little out of my element.
“I found myself in a position where I needed to be more part of the decision-making. It wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do. As chairman of the company, I felt obligated. I feel happy now to have a team of Phil and Steve to do that. My whole job now is about supporting them in winning a championship. That’s a lot easier than what I’ve had to do in the past.
Oh how I wish someone would’ve asked Dolan why he felt “obligated” to be overly involved in the past, and why he’s so convinced that that same sense of obligation won’t return. But in the spirit of positivity, I’ll shelve my skepticism and remain optimistic.
While fielding questions from the media, Dolan was thoughtful with his word selection. It was extremely uncomfortable to watch at times, but I appreciated the care in which he treated yesterday’s announcement. It was obvious he did not want to screw up the moment or go off script and say something that would overshadow the main event. Hearing Dolan humble himself and admit his faults and shortcomings was a huge relief. I perked up a bit and started to have reasons to believe that a new day truly was upon us.
After yesterday’s press conference, Dolan talked with the New York Times. He was candid in sharing insight into how the Dolan-Jackson pairing came to be. He also revealed that he consulted Jackson during the recent trade deadline. As the Knicks and Jackson were close to finalizing terms, Dolan wanted to be certain that the Knicks didn’t pull the trigger on a move that would set them back further, making it more difficult to rebound next season. This nugget of information also made me hopeful. It showed that Dolan, for once, was thinking logically about how one bad move could potentially handicap the team long term. I’ve never been convinced that Dolan’s ever considered that concept before. This is another good sign.
I’ll admit, before yesterday’s press conference, I hoped for the best but expected the worst. I waited for Dolan to slip up and say something asinine, but it never happened. Instead, he shockingly and thankfully said all the right things. Dolan grinned his way through answering tough questions, with Jackson by his side, encouraging me to think the budding bromance between Dolan and Jackson could work. Dolan’s done his part. Now it’s time for Jackson to shroud Carmelo Anthony in fairy dust, convince him to remain in New York, and complete this triangle love affair.