Knicks open Jackson era with seventh straight win

Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:00pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Phil Jackson was given a rousing welcome home by the Madison Square Garden crowd and the gift of a victory by the New York Knicks, whose future he now oversees as the team's new chief of basketball operations.

Jackson, a player on the last two Knicks' title teams dating back more than 40 years who went on to win 11 NBA crowns as head coach of the Bulls and Lakers, watched from a midcourt seat as the Knicks posted their seventh consecutive win by beating the Indiana Pacers 92-86 on Wednesday.

When the huge TV screens that hover over the court showed a closeup of Jackson in the stands during a first-quarter time out, the packed Garden crowd erupted in an ovation and the 68-year-old with 13 NBA rings stood to acknowledge the cheers.

"They went crazy, we expected that," Knicks guard Iman Shumpert said about the fans' reaction. "The great thing is we won the game."

The victory improved the Knicks to 28-40.

The Knicks' resurgence has given them an outside shot of earning one of the eight Eastern Conference playoff seeds after stumbling through a miserable season that led owner James Dolan to coax Jackson out of retirement to try to fix the Knicks.

The six previous wins in their current, desperate run were registered against weak teams, but Wednesday's triumph came at the expense of the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers, who eliminated New York during last season's playoffs.

Jackson, whose five-year contract will pay him a reported $12 million a year, figures to make moves to reshape the team and his presence was certainly felt in the Garden, both in the stands and in the clubhouse.   Continued...

Phil Jackson poses during a news conference announcing him as the team president of the New York Knicks basketball team at Madison Square Gardens in New York March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton