Larry Johnson's back, ready to help

Larry Johnson's coming back to the Knicks.

The Knicks announced on Sunday morning that they've hired Johnson as a business and basketball operations representative.

Johnson will assist with player development, marketing and community relations.

"I'm fond of New York, I've always been," he said.

Johnson first approached owner and Garden executive James Dolan with the idea three or four weeks ago.

"He was ecstatic and real hyped about bringing me back," Johnson said.

Johnson said he remains 'close' to Dolan, who employed as a Knicks forward from 1996-2001.

"Jim and I have grown with each other man. He's like a friend. He and I are real close. I know that maybe former players or whomever would say some things (about Dolan) but that's not my opinion," Johnson said.

This is his first official position with an NBA team. He said he hopes to eventually work in an NBA front office. To that end, Johnson said he'll be following Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston around 'like a puppy.'

He also plans to work with Knicks post players, Amare Stoudemire in particular. Johnson dealt with back issues in his career that ultimately forced him into retirement. He'd like to talk to Stoudemire, who is out 2-4 weeks with a bulging disk in his lower back, and provide some perspective on how to play through the injury.

Johnson is perhaps best known for converting a four-point play with :05.7 remaining en route to a 92-91 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden on Jun. 5, 1999.

In five seasons with New York, Johnson, a four-time Knicks captain, averaged 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds over 330 games from 1996 through 2001.

Here are other highlights from Johnson's Q & A with reporters:

ON THE 98-99 TEAM THAT MADE A RUN TO THE FINALS: "You (reporters) were kind of hard on us. Some of it was justified because we had the talent to be pretty good. I think we were a little naive thinking that we were just going to step out here with new faces -- me, Allan, Chris Childs -- three new starters. We were kind of were a little naive thinking that we played basketball once, we know whats going on."

ON JEFF VAN GUNDY, HIS COACH IN '98-'99: "I'm a big Jeff Van Gundy fan .... I thought Jeff did a heckuva job keeping us together... that locker room could have gone either way. Jeff was the glue, Jeff held us together."

ON YOUNG PLAYERS CALLING HIM GRANDMAMA: "It happens all the time. I'm like, 'Man, my name is Larry Johnson."