Marketing of Phil is fool's gold

NEW YORK -- Phil Jackson won't be playing a minute on the court any time soon, but the New York Knicks marketed him on Tuesday as if he would be playing alongside Carmelo Anthony.

On the day the Knicks announced the 13-time NBA champion player and coach as the team's president, a four-minute video montage of Jackson's Knicks highlights looped on the main Madison Square Garden marquee on Seventh Avenue.

As Jackson spoke to the media about his return, racks of adidas jersey T-shirts with "Jackson" and No. 18 could be seen through the team store's window. The price? $34.

With Jackson getting a reported $12 million a year on a five-year contract, the marketing push is not a surprise, as Jackson himself even referenced being aware of the Knicks' mantra: "Embracing the past but also moving forward."

Aside from the merchandise, the team trotted out former teammates Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Dick Barnett, who won titles in New York with Jackson. And Jackson did his part to bring up the happy past, including the time that former Knicks coach Red Holzman picked up Jackson from JFK Airport for the first time in his 1967 Impala.

But marketing hope is a tough premise for a team that hasn't won a title in 41 years. Roughly half of the people living in the United States weren't born when that happened.

Even the greatest legends don't sell tickets if they aren't playing. If Michael Jordan can't sell Charlotte Bobcats tickets, Phil Jackson isn't selling Knicks tickets.

It's why the scalpers outside Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, hoping to off-load tickets to tomorrow night's game against the Pacers, wound up talking to each other instead of making any sales.

It's why Knicks owner James Dolan announced that he wouldn't be raising ticket prices next season.

Phil Jackson is a nice name. But if he doesn't put the right team together, his name won't be worth much around here.