GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The coaching search is on in New York, and the best possible candidate has already been eliminated.
Phil Jackson won’t be hiring himself to coach the Knicks.
Two days after firing Mike Woodson, Jackson reiterated Wednesday that he won’t be returning to the bench, despite the fact that even fiancee Jeanie Buss told him he should.
But Jackson, who retired from coaching in 2011 after winning an NBA-record 11 titles, said his body isn’t up to doing the job.
“Jeanie Buss was here with the Board of Governors last week and stayed through the weekend, and tried to encourage me to coach the team. And if there’s anyone that can encourage me to do anything, it’s Jeanie Buss. But I was able to withstand her arguments the whole time,” Jackson said at the Knicks’ training center.
So the new team president said he’s looking for a leader with the personality and charisma to succeed in New York. He hopes to talk with Steve Kerr, the TNT analyst frequently mentioned as the leading candidate, sometime within the next month.
“New York, I think, demands a personality, a person that the fans can believe in, a person that has some confidence, has the charismatic appeal, and I think has a forward-looking idea about the game,” Jackson said.
But he also said that he will consider other candidates.
The former iconic Bulls and Lakers coach didn’t mention who any of the other candidates might be, but Ron Harper told the New York Post that he expects to be interviewed for the position.
The former guard/small forward played under Jackson with the Bulls from 1994-1998 and with the Lakers from 1999-2001. He won five championships with the Zen Master.
The 50-year-old told the newspaper that he’s texted back and forth with Jackson since his former coach joined the Knicks.
“I would expect so,” Harper told the New York Post in regard to getting an interview. “A few guys are expecting to hear from him. We’re in a wait-and-see mode. Whatever he needs me to do, I will do. He knows that … One thing Phil wants to do is teach what he knows and teach the triangle. I know it like the back of my hand, inside out, and he knows I love the game.”
Harper was an assistant coach with the Pistons under Flip Saunders in 2005 and 2006, but his contract was not renewed in 2007.
“Phil’s a smart guy,” Harper told the newspaper. “When you’re president, you try to bring in guys who are close to you. Phil’s got a game plan and only he knows it. We’ll wait and see … One thing about Phil, he will put his stamp on New York basketball. It’ll be hard to do it this summer with the salary cap and no draft picks, but in a year or two, when they’re under the cap, it will happen.”
Jackson believes Kerr, who played for him in Chicago and served as general manager of the Phoenix Suns, could be that person. He discussed Kerr’s potential interest in coaching last year when a group was trying to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle. Jackson was prepared to run their basketball operations if that happened.
He and Kerr spoke again earlier this year about basketball, so Jackson is comfortable they share the same view of how the game should be played.
“I know philosophically we have a strong connection. Whether he’s able to take a job like this, I don’t know,” Jackson said. “I will get in a conversation with him later on this month and talk to him about and see where he’s at as far as his desire to coach.”
“You don’t want to know their names,” Jackson said in regard to other candidates he had in mind. “I don’t want you to have their names.”
Jackson’s will always come up because of his coaching legacy. Madison Square Garden Chairman James Dolan first talked to Jackson around the holidays about coaching the team, but Jackson declined before they began discussing a management position.
Jackson said Buss, whose family owns the Lakers, encouraged him to reconsider because it was “low risk” for him and a “do-what-you-know-best type of thing.”
But he said he’s already made up his mind.
“Right now I know physically what I can do,” Jackson said. “That’s something that I don’t think physically I can do.”
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