When Phil Jackson left Tinseltown to take the front office position with the New York Knicks, rumors have been swirling that he would soon make his return and relive his reign in the city wherein he captured five NBA Championship rings.
In 2014, Jackson signed a $60 million five-year contract with the Knicks to man their front office and in the contract, Jackson has an opt-out clause in his contract with the Knicks. With all the speculations over the season, Jackson has stated that he has no plans of abandoning his contract with the Knicks to make his return with the Lakers since the team has already signed up Luke Walton to be their main bench tactician.
In an interview in February, Jackson made it clear that he will finish his five-year contract with the Knicks ending speculations that he would opt out to join his fiancée, Jeanie Buss, in running the Lakers. He added that they have talked about possibilities and they have also worked out what is best for their relationship as well.
“It was not something I would necessarily bargain to do, to live away from the companion I’ve had for 15 years,” Jackson said. “But she said, ‘We’ll be fine.’ And there is something about being fruitful, purposeful in life. If I’m not here four or five years down the road, then I have a young coach I believe in who will complete it.”
At that time, the young coach he thought would do it was Derek Fisher, whom he fired and described as a “transactional leader rather than of being a transformational leader.” Now that the Knicks are closing in with Jeff Hornacek to man the helm, Jackson is committed to staying with the team as they continue their rebuilding process.
The 70-year old Jackson added that he will continue to turn things around with the Knicks in helping it to become a top contender for next season. He hopes that with negotiations this summer and a potential draft trade, he could piece out the puzzle for the Knicks.
“But this is another part of my life. The energy that I have is directed toward turning this team around, and it’s taken my full effort so far. It’s been a challenge and I’m still in it and I’m in it to win it, so to speak,” Jackson explained.
An even close friend and Knicks interim head coach Kurt Rambis stated that Jackson has not given any indications that he is leaving the team or he is no longer committed to the Knicks, he adds that Jackson is actively involved with the way things are going with the team. Rambis, who will most likely step down as interim when Hornacek takes over the coaching chores, will still be part of the coaching staff.
“There’s no indication that he’s given me that he’s not committed and isn’t staying,’’ Rambis said. “Nothing outside of this team has ever been broached in any way, shape, or form.’’
Thus, one thing is clear Jackson is not heading back to Tinseltown to re-join the Lakers rather he will stick it out and make the necessary changes to turn things around with the Knicks this summer going into the next season.
Photo Courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr