Phil Jackson and the Toronto Raptors – So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance?
Toronto Raptors Getting Phil Jackson would be Best Management a Canadian NBA Team Ever Had
NBA legend Phil Jackson is accustomed to working in the United States for great organizations that have enjoyed marvelous success. None of that describes the Toronto Raptors. At any other point in my life the idea of Jackson being associated with my hometown Raps would have been a wonderful thought but surely a wild daydream. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment hired Tim Leiweke to be their President at the end of April (a role he will take on some time toward the end of June) and just like that the idea of the Raps making a massive splash like landing the 13-time champion (11 as a coach and two as a player with the New York Knicks) improved from impossible to slightly possible and inspired this piece.
The Sacramento Kings remaining in SacTown also helps as it was thought the new Seattle franchise would be appealing to lure Jackson. That takes us from slightly possible to a situation where suddenly things, plural, are starting to take place that improve the long odds of bringing Jackson to the T-Dot.
Remember this from Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd (Jim Carrey) was asking Mary (Lauren Holly) what she thought the odds were that she could ever like Lloyd in the romantic manner he liked her.
Lloyd: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Mary: Not good.
Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million.
Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance...YAAA!
Well the hiring of Leiweke was my Lloyd Christmas moment where I started to believe that there is a chance that Jackson will actually become a legit possibility to land in Toronto. Click NEXT on the top right and this slideshow article will look at the idea and possibility of this happening.
Tim Leiweke a Massive hire for MLSE
Leiweke has been instrumental in huge projects in the past, including things like bringing David Beckham to the MLS, and he was involved with bringing the first Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles Kings last year (he gets very involved in his teams). Leiweke has experience working with valuable companies, but what excites me is he seems more focused on producing winning products than previous MLSE Presidents did as they seemed to be interested in profit only.
To be interested in profit makes sense to me, but Torontonians will understand what I mean by being interested in profit only. For some time now there has been little bang for the buck that MLSE charges for their products (Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Toronto FC). The biggest thing you and I have in common with Leiweke is he is a huge Raptors fan too. That happened as soon as he signed his contract as this guy has a history of cheering passionately for the teams he is representing.
Raptors Have Rare President Opportunity for PJ
I think at this point in Jackson's life the rigors of coaching make that job almost unappealing, but a management position would be right up the alley of the 67 year old. I can't see him being the one to hammer out contract terms and details, more like a guy to oversee the show and bring a culture of development and winning, plus be the ultimate lure to attract people to the franchise.
Any organization that has Jackson repping it has that level of credibility right away. This past offseason we saw that the Raps could not overpay their own countryman, Steve Nash, to come to the Raps because he sees the current culture of this franchise and he wants no part of it. Who can blame him, but Leiweke and Jackson are a way different story. Can you see Chris Bosh and his camp disregarding Jackson the way they did Bryan Colangelo and his regime? Remember when the Raps traded for Alonzo Mourning, he refused to play for them, the Raps paid him $10 million to buy him out, and he returned to the Miami Heat for a championship ring? Does that happen on Jackson's watch with the sort of culture he would create? I don't think it does.
Phil Jackson Equals Instant Credibility
Another plus would be the level of head coach that Jackson would attract. That is of course if he does not want to coach, and I think he likely does not want to coach at this point in his storied life. Lenny Wilkins is the only coach the team ever had that was not a first time NBA head coach (Brendan Malone, Darrell Walker, Butch Carter, Kevin O'Neill, Sam Mitchell, and Jay Triano all NBA first timers) or a guy with very little experience (Dwane Casey).
No Raptors head coach ever had a winning record with the team, and it seems like it is always an "up-and-coming" guy who is hired because the organization has never attracted any established guys. Jackson improves that instantly.
Tim Leiweke, Phil Jackson a Dream Team - Sky Would Be the Limit
In his coaching career Jackson coached some of the best NBA players ever, but he also coached some of the best role players ever as well. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaq, and Kobe Bryant aren't multiple time champs if not for the contributions of guys like Horace Grant, Ron Harper, Craig Hodges, Steve Kerr, Robert Horry, Brian Shaw, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, etc. Add in the best rebounder ever (Dennis Rodman) and the best sixth man ever (Toni Kukoc) so he will have a good idea of what needs to be done from a player personnel perspective to build a winning team.
Both men also have had success managing people, and both are committed to excellence.
The thing about a Phil Jackson winning team is it usually is built for longevity, and the thing about a Tim Leiweke project is it usually yields results - fast. Leiweke is in charge of much more than just the Raps, but he has been clear that getting the Raps on-court product to be really good is an immediate priority. His know-how and Jackson's know-how would create a dream team scenario for the Raps. I have been way down on Raps management for ages now, but these two would change that right away.
Tim Leiweke, Phil Jackson Combo Returns Raps to to NBA Relevance, NBA Playoffs
It has been more than five years (April 24, 2008) since the Raps won a playoff game, not a series, one lousy game. The last time this franchise won a playoff series was waaaaaay back in 2001 (yikes). Even with this current roster full of question marks in Toronto they would surely not have long to wait until Jackson puts some of his touches on this team and has Raptors fans watching meaningful April and May basketball for the first time in ages. Chuck Swirsky was still the voice of the Raps the last time the team played an important basketball game, and the last time the team had legit aspirations of a lengthy playoff run they had John Saunders and Dan Shulman calling the action. In other words, the good times are way too far in the rear view and Raptors fans are clamoring for better ball.
MLSE has the coin to pay Jackson. MLSE has opportunities in line with what Jackson is looking for. MLSE has hired Leiweke who is one of the few peeps on earth who could lure Jackson to Canada and this scuffling Raptors organization. So you're telling me there's a chance?!?!
Thank you for checking out my work.
Craig Ballard is a NFL/NBA/MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @craigballard77, and you can find all of his articles at www.rantsports.com/blog/author/craigballard/
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