The New York Times has the official, Dolan-approved version of how the Knicks finally got their man in Phil Jackson, and it included a men-only party, following the Eagles on tour, and ATVing in the Coachella Valley. All in all, it was a very dudely courtship.
It started, as we learned at yesterday's press conference, with Irving Azoff, a music executive and manager of the Eagles, who Dolan's band has toured with, at a party in December.
After years of watching his wife organize a party for friends that she called "Just Us Girls," Mr. Azoff wanted to throw one of his own. So he invited about 150 of his male friends to his home in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles, including actors (Larry David), television executives (Les Moonves) and musicians (at least three members of the Eagles). Also on the guest list: Mr. Jackson and Mr. Dolan.
Mr. Azoff said that his wife, Shelli, and the actress Chelsea Handler were the only women who attended.
Dolan tracked down Phil Jackson, and he says the two talked for two hours, missing both drinks and dinner. Dolan asked Jackson if he wanted to coach; Jackson said no. But the two made plans to get together again.
(Dolan has improved his headhunting. Adrian Wojnarowski reports that in the giant free agency summer of 2010, Dolan handed out CDs featuring his band, J.D. and the Straight Shot, to free agents after their meetings. You want to know why LeBron James is in Miami? Pat Riley tossed a bag with his seven NBA championship rings onto the table. James Dolan gave him bad Eagles-lite karaoke.)
A January meeting at Jerry's Famous Deli in Marina del Ray followed, where Jackson said decision-making autonomy was a must if he were to take the job, and then a visit from GM Steve Mills. It's bizarre how involved Mills was in the wooing of Jackson, who after all is taking over most of his job duties. Jackson has the final say on all basketball matters now, and he's expected to bring in a disciple to handle the day-to-day GM stuff. Mills is reportedly relegated to business decisions.
After continued phone calls and emails, both men realized a deal was a matter of time. This was in February, before the NBA trade deadline, and Dolan said he ran proposed trades by Jackson first. Said Dolan, "If it was a trade that didn't fit what he was thinking...I believed he was coming on board, and I felt I should consult him."
There were more meetings, in Dallas after an Eagles concert, a "bonding weekend" in Palm Springs (after sending Jeanie Buss along her way) that featured an ATV excursion for Dolan, Mills, and Jackson. And finally, a deal. Ominously, Dolan said he personally wrote one line of Jackson's contract, but refused to tell the Times what it was.
Finally, a dinner in Manhattan on Monday night, where Jackson dined with Dolan, Azoff, and Glenn Frey of the Eagles. It all comes back to the Eagles.
Full-Court Press Wooed Jackson to Knicks [New York Times]