Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers

On Tuesday, most of us were convinced that news regarding Bryan Colangelo’s job status would emerge throughout the day.

Late Wednesday afternoon (or whenever it is that you stumble upon this) we still aren’t seeing any clearer in that regard, but there’s plenty more Phil Jackson chatter to hold us over in the meantime…

As most of you are probably aware by now, the original source of the Jackson/Toronto link was ESPN’s Marc Stein, and on Wednesday, Stein continued to be a driving force of the speculation on TrueHoop TV with Henry Abbott and David Thorpe.

In terms of points that stick out from the video, Stein says that Jackson probably wants a stronger role than the advisory one that Jerry West has with the Warriors and mentioned that “bottom feeder teams” like the Raptors and Bobcats “in unglamorous Eastern Conference cities” are interested, among others.

Personally, I’m fine with Stein comparing Toronto’s and Charlotte’s basketball teams and referring to the Raptors as a bottom feeder because that’s what they’ve been for the better part of 18 seasons, but don’t ever compare Charlotte to Toronto as a city, especially when describing a city as “unglamorous.” We’re better than that here in Toronto, and you’re better than the average American sports journalist who would usually make that comparison, Stein.

In terms of coaches that will be in play should Jackson take over the basketball operations for an NBA team, the obvious answer of Brian Shaw came up, as did the name Kurt Rambis.

The biggest point that many fans will take from the TrueHoop video is Stein’s proclamation that Toronto “is the team to keep an eye on” while also adding, “I would probably, at this point, give the Raptors the best chance.” As usual, Leiweke’s presence is the main reason that the Raptors are seen as favourites, with Stein referring to MLSE’s new CEO as “an undeniable superstar among sports executives.

In one of the more intriguing tidbits from the nearly six-minute segment, Abbott mentioned that “Phil’s family’s from Canada” and that “he’s got roots there,” which was the first I had heard of any Canadian roots. However, it just so happens that Macleans.ca posted an interview with Leiweke on their website on Friday, and when it came to the question of Phil Jackson, here’s how Leiweke answered (note the mention of family again)

“Well, I think it’s nice to throw Phil’s name out there, but he’s newly engaged and his fiancée lives in L.A. He has grandkids now. So I think that although Phil will certainly be—and has been—someone I’ve gone to for advice and input, I don’t think people should expect he is going to be the saviour. We have a current GM, Bryan [Colangelo]. So, first and foremost, I need to go spend time with Bryan before we can define problems, solutions and answers. Phil Jackson knows the city well, by the way—he has a bunch of Canadians in his family, so he’s very partial to Toronto and wants the Raptors to have success. But I don’t want people to think he is going to ride in on a white horse and fix this. It’s not that easy.”

While Leiweke clearly downplays the idea of Jackson strolling in and magically transforming the franchise, I’d still assume that if Phil is open to the idea of Toronto, then Leiweke and MLSE will attempt to lure him into some sort of front office role. In addition, while I still believe that the predictable end to this saga will see Bryan Colangelo’s team option picked up for next season, isn’t it at least somewhat possible that Jackson could join the staff as a high ranking front office member while B.C. runs the day-to-day operations?

I understand that the possibility is highly unlikely and there are currently no reports out there to suggest that it is possible, but at this point, I just don’t think anyone should be ruling anything out.

On that note, if it isn’t an option and if Colangelo’s job is being determined by whether Jackson would or wouldn’t come to Toronto, then a familiar face from RaptorBlog past has a solid viewpoint on the matter…

Comments (18)

  1. This story is the gift that keeps on giving.

    I’m very thankful for the distraction even if it eventually leads to another year of Casey/Colangelo.

  2. That quote from Leiweke was so smooth that I bet Colangelo was impressed. It was the perfect response that left open the possibility that Phil could end up in Toronto without Leiweke looking like a liar, but it also didn’t promise anything that he could be called out for later. It’s one of the most perfect “non-answer answers” I’ve ever read. We’re clearly in the presence of a media maestro.

  3. Yeah, that “unglamourous” comment was an unnecessary cheap shot that I wouldnt expect from someone like Stein. He should know better. Also, I believe that in theory it is possible to pick up BCs option and demote him to GM and hire Jackson as Pres. So I definitely wouldnt rule that out. I will say though that if they hire Jackson, I think its likely casey is gone and they will bring in shaw or rambis to coach the triangle.

  4. So glad you said something JC, defending our city! I personally HATE ignorant Yanks – Hate the Fuckers. I fist fought one mouthy Yank this past fall at the Bills vs Chiefs game in Buffalo – kick his big mouth running off about Canadians ass badly…. straight in front of his women. Then I leaned over him spit on him and told to “becarefull” Canadians are tough and encouraged him to take this message to rest of the ignorant Yanks. This was after the guy was going on for the whole game around the buses – someone had too!
    I’m not claiming to be a tough guy, don’t like to fist fight at all, to be honest – but I will to anyone or thing that displays ignorance to my country!

    • Wouldn’t the more “Canadian” answer have been to ask him politly to shut up. Instead of kicking his ass and then spitting on him? Or just ignore the ignorant douche and send him a letter asking for an apology for his rude behaviour.

    • Youngjames stick to commenting on youtube videos where you’ll be amongst your own kind. smh

  5. Ultimately it’s about style. Who looks better in a suit in front of a microphone. Personally, I like Phil’s lean, toned legs over BC’s tightened up tush in an Italian suit. Phil’s physique and ability to communicate to the liberal tastes of Toronto’s denizens makes him the ideal candidate, plus doesn’t that smile just make you melt! #swoon

  6. Quite predictably, of everything going on here, it’s the suggestion that Toronto is not a “world-class city” that garners the strongest response.

    From a basketball perspective, Toronto is absolutely an “unglamorous” Eastern Conference city. Compared to New York, Boston, and Chicago, this city is nothing to a basketball commentator. It’s big – congratulations, so is Karachi.

    • Saying Toronto is unglamorous is beyond stupid. Out of every NBA city in regards to appeal quality of life and cleanliness among many factors Toronto won far and away. Toronto is ranked in the Top 30 cities in the World and the Raptors have a massive fan base and an entire country of support. To say otherwise shows you literally know nothing about not only Canada but the earth in general.

    • New York Boston and Chicago are less cleanly, more violent, less diverse, more polluted, less natural beauty and realistically aside from NY are virtually the same size. Also not one of those cities is pursuing Phil Jackson for a management role

    • I agree with you, didn’t have a problem at all with Stein’s description.

      Regardless of its status as a city, the trainwreck status of the Raptors along with the fact that Toronto is considered a foreign city to most Americans definitely doesn’t make it very appealing.

    • First game in NBA history was played in Toronto between the Knicks and the Huskies! Our team is young and has a spotty and inconsistent history, but as far as being a sports city it’s bananas. You won’t find any other place as supportive of their teams win or lose (Jays, Leafs, TFC, Rock, Raps and so on)…I think the issue has more to do with the perception of it being ‘foreign’. It IS a ridiculous (very seemingly American) notion at this point, and one of the major things Leiweke has already said he’ll set out to address. This has never mattered in any other sport as much as it seems to in the NBA where star american players think even small market American teams will provide their career with a bigger boost than being the face of another country’s sole franchise. We have money, we have fans (in droves), that’s all one should need…the players bring the wins, not the bloody city. These young american big guns need more of a Valanciunas attitude. Homie’s just so stoked to play in TO. haha

  7. Jackson is not coming to Toronto! Dream on Raptor fans!!!

    • Casey and BC should be given one more year to see whether the current contingent can gel; otherwise, we are back on the constant-change treadmill that has led nowhere

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