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.