James Dolan said in a pair of live television interviews during the second quarter of Wednesday night's Pacers-Knicks game that Phil Jackson initially won him over during an impromptu basketball tutorial at a mutual friend's house in December.
"He taught me basketball in two hours," the Garden's executive chairman told MSG's Al Trautwig.
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Asked what he learned from that night, Dolan smiled and said, "That I don't know basketball."
Later he spoke to ESPN's Lisa Salters from his seat and also recalled that initial meeting. "The way he explained the game to me, I'd never actually had anybody teach me it that way," he said. "He clearly has a level of intelligence and skill in the game that I hadn't seen before, and obviously his reputation preceded him."
Dolan also told Salters the season has been "a huge surprise, a disappointment for everybody," but added of a possible playoff berth, "We're certainly playing well enough to do so, but we've got to get some breaks along the way."
Asked about Carmelo Anthony, Dolan said, "The most important thing to him is to win a championship, so our job with him to convince him to stay is to convince him that he has a great shot of doing that. Bringing on Phil certainly helps."
The interviews were a rarity for Dolan, who in the 36 hours after Jackson was introduced took questions at a news conference and did at least six one-on-one radio, TV or print interviews.
The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.