So who really missed Richard Peddie? No one right, after all anytime he spoke doom for the Raptors was sure to follow. It was the end of 2011 when he bid farewell to MLSE, than came Rogers and Bell to take over the company and the Teacher Pension Fund Era was dead. The company never really replaced Peddie but was said to be searching for a successor. Today the news broke that they found a replacement in Tim Leiweke as the new CEO of MLSE. It also came with rumours that the Toronto Raptors are in pursuit of Phil Jackson to become their new president. Bryan Colangelo still has that job for the moment.
Will get to the Jackson stuff in a minute which is honestly pretty nuts and I have no concern if him and Leiweke are soul mates. But regardless of Phil Jackson, this is a true potential changing of the guard for MLSE. Leiweke made his mark with the AEG group that owned the Kings, L.A Galaxy and part of the L.A Lakers. All teams that have won championships something MLSE is clearly not familiar with at all.
Michael Grange gave us all the first signs that this day might come back in March. He goes in depth into this man’s impressive resume. I will just say that in his debut on the scene in Toronto after being hired he said all of the right things but even went a step further. Talking in such bold terms as the Raptors are the main reason he was interested in this job. Wait a second someone that is more interested in the Raptors than the Leafs? I am becoming a fan of this guy. He said a number of things that will play well with fans.
Toronto deserves to host an NBA All-Star Game. That said this was well on the road to happening before he arrived. He spoke about fans deserving some good news and something to be excited about. That Toronto needed to become a destination like L.A and Miami. The Raptors should be a destination for any player. This needed to become the Raptors’ reality.
He is excited about the possibility of a potential fan base of 36 million in Canada. Something MLSE has truly struggled with in making themselves a national brand and the Raptors a national brand. He talked about pushing management to succeed. He talked about taking an active role in the future of Bryan Colangelo.
He talked about re-investing in teams by spending money on rosters. He talked about winning championships. This is a message that really seemed dead in the current Raptors set up. He basically hit on all the things that fans have expressed about what this franchise isn’t and met it with an attitude of the era of excuses is over. No longer should the Raptors settle and accept they can not get anyone.
It all sounds good doesn’t it? Sure but Phil Jackson is still not walking through that door at least not now. Also he wouldn’t be walking through to coach it would be to do Bryan Colangelo’s job. His star player Michael Jordan has surly taught us that success in one area does not mean it translates to ownership. His work with the Wizards and now Bobcats is a shining example of that. Conversely look at what Larry Bird did in his career. He was a Championship player and an above average NBA Coach and eventually executive.
The one thing we can all agree on is Phil Jackson is a smart guy. He is well aware of what he would be getting into with the Raptors. They are a mess contract wise and if God came down to earth he might not be able to dig out of the hole that Bryan Colangelo has dug into. He may not be able to trade Andrea Bargnani either. Jackson can take his time and call his shot. If he has an itch to come back to the NBA he will only do it if he can succeed. He has proven that with his choices in coaching ranks.
So Phil Jackson is likely not walking through that door tomorrow, next week or next month if he ever does. That should not diminish what this means for the Raptors. If you can sum up what Tim Leiweke has brought to all of MLSE and the Raptors in particular it can be summed up in one word.
It has been sorely lacking these last 5 years especially. There was always someone or something to blame. That it appears ends now and the goal at least for the moment has been turned to being a franchise that is not just playing to make the playoffs but to win a championship. To demand more and not just settle in free agency but to compete in free agency. To not be trading players that want out of Toronto but trading for players that want to come here.
It all sounds pie in the sky type talk and it sounds like things we have heard before. To which we all likely have in the past. We just have never heard it from a guy that has actually done it. He has won championships and brought David Beckham to the MLS. This guy makes things happen and he has a proven track record.
Will see if the words turn to actions and what this all means for the future of the Raptors both short and long term. If you think the whole Phil Jackson stuff was the story today it really wasn’t it was the fact you had a guy that has the track record to make people take the insane idea serious for 5 minutes. He did that in his first day imagine what he can do in a year to rehabilitate the Raptors brand with the NBA Community. It is badly needed with or without Colangelo and Casey.