Bill Cartwright has no doubt that Phil Jackson will be prepared for his new role as Knicks president, and believes his knowledge, vision and personality are just what they need.
Cartwright was the man in the middle for the Bulls' first three NBA championships under Jackson and speaks as much about what he meant to him as a person as his coaching and leadership style.
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The former Knicks center said Jackson taught the players life lessons, how to have balance and be well-rounded. Cartwright said he still uses them now. He also doesn't agree with those who question if Jackson can transition from winning coach to successful front-office executive. Cartwright cited Pat Riley and Larry Bird as examples.
"I don't think there's any doubt that Phil's going to do a great job," Cartwright said in a phone interview Sunday from his home in Chicago. "Phil's going to take everything into consideration. The big thing Phil's going to have is a vision for the organization of who they're going to be as a whole and who the team's going to be. He's got a great ability to relate to everybody and have everybody on the same page. I think he's going to be terrific.
"When you've won as much as he has I think he's somebody you should probably be listening to and have in your organization. You can say he's had great players -- and he has -- but so have a lot of other people. There's a formula there that he has or some words or some thoughts that are going to help you be successful."
Jackson, a 13-time champion as a player and coach, will be introduced as the Knicks' new top basketball executive at a news conference on Tuesday morning. After spending nine years with the Knicks, Cartwright understands what Jackson's arrival means for the franchise and city.
"Who else could bring such a positive image, such a positive spirit back to the team?" Cartwright said. "I don't think there's anybody else who can come in interest-wise that's going to be so positive for the team. I think it's great."
Cartwright, the No. 3 pick in the 1979 draft, was traded by the Knicks to Chicago in 1988 for Charles Oakley. After retiring, Cartwright returned to the Bulls as an assistant under Jackson and won two more titles. Cartwright ultimately coached the Bulls for parts of three seasons.
He spent last season coaching in Japan, and wants to get back in the NBA. Cartwright could get a call from Jackson; the two have remained in contact.
Jackson is expected to bring in his own people. Steve Kerr has been linked as a possible head coaching candidate. Cartwright was an assistant when Kerr played with Chicago, and later he was hired to be an assistant coach in Phoenix when Kerr was the Suns' general manager.
"As an overseer, I think Phil will be terrific," Cartwright said. "He'll put the right guys in the right spots. A big part of what he's going to do is the people he's going to surround himself with, and I'm sure he'll do a great job."
Cartwright experienced many of the Knicks-Bulls playoff battles firsthand. But the Knicks never could beat Jackson and Michael Jordan. The Knicks have won one playoff series since 2000, and now are turning to Jackson to change that.
"They need Phil a hell of a lot more than he needs them," Cartwright said. "They need a guy like him. They need a guy who has a vision for the team. I just think that he's going to go into this as prepared as he can and I think he'll do a great job."