Eleven-time NBA champion Phil Jackson seems to have a new nickname: “Apple Jax”.
That’s the nickname headlined on the back cover of the March 9 issue of the New York Post.
Marc Berman was the first to break the news that Jackson had finally reached an agreement on the specifics of his front office position with the Knicks. Jackson and the team had been in talks since last week according to multiple media outlets but Berman was the first to report late Tuesday night that Jackson would have “president” in his title and oversee basketball operations for the franchise.
Jackson, one of the all-time great coaches in professional sports, will have a large responsibility in rebuilding the Knicks “cesspool” of a franchise and instilling a championship culture which has been absent for nearly 40 years. As a player, he won two championships with the Knicks back in the 1970s. As coach, he won multiple three-peats between the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, and back to back titles in 2009 and 2010 with the Lakers. Now, working under Knicks owner James Dolan, Jackson faces his most challenging predicament yet, one that does not include coaching Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neal.
Once officially hired, Jackson will inherit a roster that lacks the star power he’s accustomed to working with. Turning the Knicks franchise around is not going to happen overnight, and major decisions must be made once he’s on board.
How can Jackson reshape the Knicks culture and turn them back into a contender? Here’s a look at three steps that he must follow to mold them back into a championship-caliber team.