President, New York Knickerbockers
Steve Mills was named president of the New York Knickerbockers on Jul. 14, 2017. He had returned to The Madison Square Garden Company on Sep. 26, 2013, and had served as general manager of the Knicks since Mar. 18, 2014.
Immediately upon his appointment as president, he charted a bold long-range course designed to restore the Knicks to elite status.
“What we do and how we proceed, even in the pressurized atmosphere of New York, must be grounded in a core philosophy and a guiding vision,” says Mills. “As the organization’s new president, that is my most important management role - to keep my eye on the big picture, to ensure that everything we do locks into our overall strategy.
A 30-plus-year veteran of the sports world, Mills’ career has included 16 years with the National Basketball Association, where his talents led to a notable ascent from account executive to senior vice president of basketball and player development. This was followed by 10 years at The Madison Square Garden Company, where Mills had a wide range of responsibilities that included overseeing business and basketball operations for the Knicks and Liberty, along with business operations for the Rangers and for all other sports-related activities at The Garden.
Now, in his second tenure at The Garden, he joins General Manager Scott Perry and Head Coach Jeff Hornacek as a top-level management team charged with the responsibility of bringing championship-caliber basketball back to The World’s Most Famous Arena. The Knicks’ commitment to youth was spearheaded with the Summer 2017 re-acquisition of Tim Hardaway Jr. and the drafting of French star Frank Ntilikina, to join the Knicks’ All-Rookie selection, Kristaps Porzingis.
“How can we build a Knicks team that possesses true unity of purpose, a group in which everyone so truly believes in one another that together we can create something unique, something special?” asks Mills. “As I said on the day we introduced Scott Perry as our new general manager, we are devoted to a bedrock principle - to restore the pride, work ethic and accountability that comes with playing in New York. Dogged defense. Crisp, unselfish ball movement. Scraping for loose balls. These will be our hallmarks.
“And our plan to become more youthful and athletic is underway with Kristaps Porzingis, the return of Tim Hardaway Jr. and with the debut of our first round draft pick, Frank Ntilikina, just 19.”
Mills’ decade-long career at The Madison Square Garden Company included his role as president of MSG Sports, during which he oversaw all business operations, including marketing and community relations, for the company’s three professional sports teams and Sports Properties, which included college basketball, boxing, and track and field. Steve originally joined the Knicks as executive vice president of franchise operations in September 1999 and became president of sports teams operations for Madison Square Garden in 2001.
“This is a seductive city,” says Mills. “Everybody wants to be the one to do it, to fix it all, but none of us are in it for the attention. We are not looking for celebrity. We are not fame hunters. We just want to pour ourselves into the process, one step at a time, and see the result.
“We just want to do it.”
Prior to his move to The Garden, Mills played an integral role in the development of the National Basketball Association, where he held several positions with increasing responsibility, including his last role as senior vice president, basketball and player development. His responsibilities included managing the league’s relationships with all domestic and international basketball organizations, including the NCAA and USA Basketball, as well as overseeing the NBA’s developmental programs and player initiatives during one of the most critical periods in league history. Mills also played a key role in the creation of the Women’s National Basketball Association and served on the team responsible for the negotiation of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Mills started his career with the NBA in 1983 as an account executive in the corporate sponsorship department of NBA Properties.
Before returning to MSG, Mills most recently served as partner and CEO of Athletes & Entertainers Wealth Management Group, LLC, a company he created in 2010 that links sports and entertainment stars with investment and management leaders to create new business opportunities.
An accomplished collegiate basketball player, Mills started three seasons at guard for Hall of Fame Coach Pete Carril at Princeton University, where he helped lead the Tigers to two Ivy League first place finishes, including the league title and an NCAA berth in 1981. He also played professionally for one season in South America in 1981.
Mills earned a degree in sociology from Princeton in 1981, and has served on the Board of Trustees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Board of Directors for USA Basketball. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Princeton Varsity Club and on the Advisory Board for Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery. In December 2015, Mills joined the board of Ariel Investment Trust as an independent director. Steve and his wife Beverly have two daughters.