Since the announcement of Phil Jackson as the new President of the New York Knicks earlier this season, there has been a buzz around the entire New York Knicks organization. In an otherwise disappointing season, the arrival of the "Zen Master" has brought a level of optimism that has permeated every level of the organization. But what exactly does Phil bring to the table that can make this effect last? He's never actually been a basketball executive. While no one can question Jackson's basketball knowledge, does he have the necessary skill-set to manage salaries in a league subject to a very restrictive salary cap? Does he have the energy or know how to find cheap, undiscovered, young talent to add to a team that has mortgaged away most of their upcoming draft picks in regimes past? Time will surely answer all of these questions, but in the mean time, let's analyze what we know he brings to the table.
The most pivotal thing Phil Jackson brings to the Knicks is a system. For too long, the New York Knicks have operated under the assumption that the road to consistent contention is on the back of a star player. This led to poor and unbalanced rosters that were assemblies of talent and lacked the synergy needed to build a contending team. In bringing in the principles of the triangle offense he made famous in Chicago, he has also brought a blueprint on how to build an effective Knicks team. Players brought in from now on will have a role from the moment they sign their contracts. Players with limited skill-sets will be able to focus on doing what they do best and will be appreciated for their skill-sets, rather than berated for their deficiencies.
The second thing that Phil brings to the Knicks is something that is important in the Big Apple and even more important to Knicks owner James Dolan. Phil brings a reputation and a sense of direction. When he inevitably makes a move that we don't understand, rather than tearing the move down, we are more likely to just wait and see . . . simply because Phil Jackson made the move. Anyone who has been a Knick fan for the last decade or so knows what it's like to have executives with bad reputations running operations. There is a certain level of unrest that comes with wondering whether your team made a move for basketball reasons or just for the sake of making headlines. With Phil Jackson calling the shots, Knick fans can rest assured that the moves made under his tenure are meant for the betterment of the on-court product more than anything else.
The third thing Phil brings to the table is a calming influence. In recent history, the New York Knicks have built a reputation for being a reactionary organization prone to panic when things don't go according to plan. Phil, on the other hand, is known for his calculating and cool demeanor. His composure in pressured environments will serve the Knicks well as they rebuild and aim for future championship contention. Phil knows what it takes to win a championship in the NBA. Whether or not he can bring those ingredients to New York remains to be seen. But he has succeeded at every level of his NBA career so far. He has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to winning.