According to a report via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Toronto Raptors are aggressively pursuing former Los Angles Lakers and Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson, for the role of team president.
This report surfaced last week after Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Raptors amongst other Toronto-based sports teams, hired former President and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Tim Leiweke, to take over at the helm.
Leiweke, who is considered by some to be the best sports executive in North America, and Jackson are said to have a close relationship which puts this seemingly unlikely scenario into context.
The Toronto Raptors, emboldened by the news that the Sacramento Kings apparently won’t be moving to Seattle, have ramped up their pursuit of Phil Jackson to be their new team president, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Raptors — now being run by former Los Angeles-based sports mogul Tim Leiweke — regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch.
But now that the Kings appear poised to stay in Sacramento instead of being sold to the consortium led by Jackson fan Chris Hansen, sources say that the Raptors will be pursuing Jackson aggressively this week, believing that they rank as Jackson’s most attractive current option for a new career in management now that he can reunite with Leiweke.
Jackson is expected to be back in the NBA next season in a front office capacity, even telling the San Francisco Chronicle recently, that he was weighing his options after receiving interest from a few teams. The 11-time champion is said to be interested in a role similar to what Pat Riley has with the Miami Heat and Jerry West has with Golden State Warriors.
Lakers fans are holding on to the notion that Jackson will return to the team as a coach, but he has already made it clear that he never intends to coach again and there doesn’t appear to be a role in the front office with Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak already supplanted in their positions.
Jackson is also said to be taking a more open-minded approach with his potential opportunities so a move up north isn’t as far-fetched as most would like to think. And Leiweke is known as a man who regularly ignores his detractors, as evidenced when he got David Beckham to join the L.A. Galaxy, even when some deemed it impossible.