Kobe Bryant And Phil Jackson Address The Media

I was going to write a quick collection of thoughts on how the appointment of Tim Leiweke to President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is good news for the Raptors going forward because of his breadth of NBA experience.

And then this happened…

Suffice to say, this story has just taken on a much more massive role than just “Leiweke is good news for the Raptors.”

The obvious warning I’d give to fans that are already celebrating Phil Jackson’s 12th championship parade – only this time down Bay Street – is that this is a mere report right now. There’s no telling whether the Raptors plan to pick up Bryan Colangelo’s team option for next season, whether they’ll even make a pitch to Jackson or whether Phil would actually listen. But remember, Jackson is reportedly looking to move on from coaching by running an NBA team from the top, and the Raptors would give him the ability to do so in one of the NBA’s biggest markets.

In addition, as Stein notes, Leiweke has obvious ties to Los Angeles. He’s been serving as the President and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which owns the Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS) and a share of the Lakers, in addition to the Staples Center and the L.A. Live entertainment complex (as well as the Home Depot Center). It only makes sense if through all of that, one way or another, Leiweke has built some sort of relationship with Jackson, right?

On that note, part of the reason I was going to post a quick writeup on Leiweke taking over MLSE before the Phil Jackson news even broke is that the hiring represents a positive step forward for the Raptors, as the conglomerate is now run by an influential figure who has hands-on experience in the NBA. In case you weren’t aware, Leiweke served as president of the Nuggets in the past and was actually the first person ever hired by the start up Timberwolves in 1988, where he became Vice President.

(Humorous sidenote – Leiweke’s Wikipedia page has already been updated to read “He will become CEO of MLSE on June 30. And will fire Bryan Colangelo for ruining the game of Basketball for Toronto fans.“)

But back to The Zen Master.

You can question whether one of the greatest coaches and ego managers in sports history would even make a good executive assuming he is brought on somewhere, but the instant credibility Jackson would deliver to Toronto basketball would be unlike anything this city has ever seen. Bigger than Isiah, bigger than Vince, bigger than Bryan. With Phil’s massive presence at the helm, I don’t think I have to explain to you how much more attractive Toronto and the Raptors become to potential future free agents, trade targets and coaching candidates.

On a final note, while there are surely some out there who scoff at the notion of Phil Jackson in Toronto simply because he’s got “too much” money to need this job or because of a general theory about already being “too rich,” I’ll simply leave you with the indelible words of the Million Dollar Man.

Comments (39)

  1. That would be a splash if there ever was one.

  2. What does this mean for bc? He a goner? Im intrigued to say the least.

  3. Now that’s interesting! A real sports entertainment exec to head up the whole of MLSE can only be a plus for all the properties. If he can help us rework the Raptors’ executive staff, its even better.

  4. So many things to talk about here.

    Did they not make a final decision on BC/Casey immediately after the season because this hiring was coming? I don’t even care about the interest in Jackson because I don’t see it going anywhere but the fact that they hired a new CEO and he’s already looking for potential BC replacements is great, GREAT news.

    • @PBI – I asked this question to Stephen Brotherson – He said that BC and Casey’s meeting with the “board” is in July that is when the contract on BC for this year 20102-2013 is up and they will make a decision then as to his extension…and Casey to some extent I guess, he’l be evaluated never the less.

      • Really? In July? I hope he’s wrong because that seems pretty late.

        If we get a new GM, it would be nice to make some roster moves prior to the draft and maybe even get some draft picks…

        • @BP – Agreed! I hope it doesn’t eve get to July – I hope BC and Casey are both canned.

          • I just read that a decision is going to made about BC in the next few weeks – F^cken eh, chief! Could the BC era actually be over?

          • Colangelo said at his press conference on Monday that a resolution in regard to his job status was expected in 2-3 weeks, and Leiweke has talked about how he’ll give input to the board before he officially takes over on June 30th, so based on all of that, I would assume a Colangelo decision will come down in early May, with Leiweke having some obvious say on the matter despite not actually being in control yet.

  5. Oh you mean the guy who didn’t want to even coach full time for the Lakers? Yeah I’m sure he’d jump at the chance to coach the raps lol.

    • The story is that the Raptors are planning to offer him the presidency, not a coaching job.

      Also, did you not listen to Ted Dibiase?

    • He’s not interested in coaching again. He’s trying to land a management position. He would be here as president and GM of the Raptors.

  6. It’s a pipe dream, as much as I would love for this happen I don’t see this happening. Why would Phil want to come here? to inheret a team with little cap space and no room for significant changes no to mention no where near the calibre of talent that he is used to having.


  8. Just the fact that Jackson would almost certainly replace Dwayne Casey with an experienced head coach would be a huge plus. Hearing Colangelo say he would definitely bring Casey back if he returns was disappointing. Casey seems like a nice enough guy but he’s clearly not ready to be a head coach.

    • @CMac – totally agree with replacing Casey, Boss. I so want a not only experienced, but proven head coach to run this team – no offense to (O’Neil, Carter, Triano and Casey to name the last few) but they are all first time a’ roundre’s pretty much (except Casey’s bad attempt in Minny) and the team’s success and winning takes the lumps of those new coaches “learning curve”….So tired of it!

    • Experienced coach??!! Nah, if Phil was here, you know that our next coach would be Brian Shaw. I would rather have Casey…

  9. This would be huuuuge.

    But I have a hard time believing that MLSE will be able to pull this off. They have a way of screwing everything up.

  10. This may be a sign of great things to come. MLSE is clearly interested in spending on the Raptors, knowing that the team represents the largest geographical area out of all NBA teams. The hiring of Tim Leiweke suggests that they want to turn things around and alrhough people may say that Phil would not wanna come here due to the fact there isn’t a lot of top-caliber talent, the fact of the mater is that that is the kind of setting where Phil would truly be able to make his mark. By coming in, hiring a new coach and changing the dynamic of the team, it is possible that players already on the team will be more willing to give it their all and play the game the right way.

  11. Whoa.

    Experience tells me to temper expectations. There is a huge difference between “making a pitch” and landing your guy. A chasm, actually.

    This, after all, is a franchise that makes pitches to Steve Nash-calibre players but only manages to bring home Hedo “Ball” Turkoglu or the zombie corpse of Jermaine O’Neal.

    We’re more likely to end up with Ted Dibiase as President/GM than Phil Jackson.

  12. I thought MLSE was a poison and you only had to look at the Leafs, Raptors, and TFC for proof. Seems like they are moving in the right direction though. Stranger things have happened in this city.. would nice to see Phil with the Raps

  13. I won’t comment on the Jackson rumblings, but I sincerely hope that with the hiring of Leiweke it will signal the very soon demise of Bryan Colangelo’s reign of error.

    It would be nice to have a GM who actually has a master plan that is a bit more ambitious than Colangelo’s ‘Shoot for the Stars’ plan of .500 basketball. Never before has the quest for being ‘merely adequate’ taken on so much meaning as it has at the hands of Colangelo.

  14. Really like the sounds of the Leiweke hiring. Someone can finally hold Colangelo accountable for his years of mistakes as the GM and replace him.

    If we somehow managed to bring Phil Jackson to the Raptors front office, I wonder if it would eventually lead to Brian Shaw as the new head coach as well.

  15. I love the idea of Phil Jackson becoming the president/zen leader/basketball ayatollah of the Raptors, but deep down I imagine the odds of this are somewhat slim (I never want to get my hopes up with the Raptors).

    If Phil Jackson took over the presidency of the Raptors, what are the odds Casey is shown the door and Bryan Shaw is named the new head coach?

  16. Bryan Colangelo’s reign of error

    I laughed and laughed… I can’t believe I haven’t come across this most fitting of phrases before.

    Well done sir!

  17. Phil is a smart man….and with that being said there’s no way he’s going to work for MLSE. Let alone leave southern cal to come up here. I seriously hope none of you are getting your hopes up for this to happen. If you were Phil would you come up here to take the job? Be honest…..especially since half of you only bash the franchise and think the team is going nowhere….

    If you read the reports other teams have also been approaching him for a front office position……

    • @J May – I don’t understand your reasoning “If you were Phil would you come up here to take the job?”
      As far as “Big Business” and “High Finance” is concerned Toronto is a hot hub – a Macca for the worlds top executives, let alone North America’s top executives. Money comes through the GTA and Southern Ontario vastly as this region is a rich high economic and growing region as a whole. Senior business people craved to be apart of our action, especially when it involves an opportunity at high level high media focused positions – hence Tim Leiweke acceptance of his new position for MLSE….Why did he leave L.A to come up here? I’m sure he could have gone almost anywhere else in sports or the NBA specifically he desired with his credentials….he came because Toronto has a city is the place to be right now, lots and lots of potential.
      Here is what Bill Simmons had to say about the hiring of TL: “Tim Leiweke just got the Control Everything About Toronto Sports job – best job out there, big ripples in super-rich guy circles right now”….Best job out there right now, he said – with Phil having control of “everything with the Toronto Raptor” right down to coaching the coach to player development, why wouldn’t he come here. MLSE has the money, MLSE is very reputable, its a major profit generating organization in North America and he has the keys! The perception in “High Finance and Big Business” circle and what they think about Canada and Toronto is not the same perception that the players or average citizens of the USA have – how they “view” Toronto is completely different then how important business people view Toronto. For potions like “President of the Toronto Raptors” with full say is a “dream” job for anyone…including Phil Jackson.
      Besides there is only one other offer out there (that I am aware of – but I stand to be corrected) right now that Phil would be remotely interested in and that is the job in Seattle – if the deal ever goes through!

  18. more spin.
    love my BCE dividends.

  19. Great coaches don’t always make great executives. I can rip off any number of examples of championship-winning coaches turned failed executives.

    With that said, intelligence in the front office is not a bad thing.

  20. Phil won’t come to T.O. Rap’s fans think their team and city are so important He would give up everything to come here to be another pawn. C’mon be serious.
    Maybe Obama will come to Sydney Nova Scotia to work for local homeless shelters.
    Or maybe Bill Gates will move to Alert Ellesmere Island to study the Arctic Hare.

  21. I need to take a deep breath for this….



    You Raptor fans are pathetically delusional if you think Phil would ever tarnish his sterling reputation by so much as sneezing on your franchise.

    Sadly, this comes off as me being a Raptor hater.. Which is somewhat inaccurate. I’m neutral when it comes to Canadian basketball. What I am a hater of is.. well.. outlandish news on my beloved TheScore blog.

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