By Satbir Singh
No one has ever thought that Jackson would ever consider a job with the Raptors. Even when rumours began to swirl that Jackson would be interested in a front office role with an NBA team. The role he would be looking for is similar to that of Pat Riley with the Miami Heat.
It’s still hard to believe Jackson would ever consider the Raptors. However, with the hire of Tim Leiweke as the new CEO of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, the idea of Jackson in Toronto has become very much real. MLSE, the owners of the Raptors, along with the Maple Leafs in the NHL, the Marlies in the AHL, and FC in the MLS, made this hire with complete confidence that Leiweke was the guy to turn Toronto’s sports fortunes around.
The Raptors have had a tough time getting not just one city, but a whole nation behind the team. The last time the Raptors truly meant something in their 18 year existence was back when Vince Carter took the team to the second round way back in 2001. That was the last, and only time the Raptors got to the second round.
Toronto’s fans usually continue to support their sports teams through rough times, even though there’s lots of whining. The Raptors attendance this past season was 13th in the NBA, even with a 34-48 record.
With the addition of Leiweke, the Raptors will get more attention from ownership than ever before. They also may get more attention in the NBA as Leiweke is a very well-known figure in the NBA world. He’s also known to have a great relationship with Jackson.
The Raptors current General Manager, Bryan Colangelo saw his contract come to an end as another disappointing season finished up. Colangelo does have an option on his contract that ownership can pick up, and allow him to run the Raptors for one more season. All signs pointed to the Raptors being content with Colangelo, and picking up that option.
When Lieweke was hired, he himself said that he doesn’t know much about Colangelo, so he won’t be a major contributor in the decision of bring him back or not. However, Lieweke did say he would ask around to get more information on Colangelo to get his fair share of thoughts in when ownership decide to make the decision on the Raptors General Manager spot.
It was thought to be that Colangelo would have already had his option picked up by now, but the Jackson rumours may have changed things. Before Lieweke joined, the Raptors probably thought they had no shot at the future hall of famer in Jackson. But once you hire someone who has connection with Jackson, and you know Jackson is thinking about a return to the NBA, you got to take a shot.
Rumours now have it that Jackson would listen to the Raptors if they called. Lieweke would probably lead the way on trying to hire Jackson and with a good friendship with not just Jackson, but also Jackson’s fiancée Jeanie Buss, Lieweke may just be able to convince Jackson to come to Toronto.
Lieweke knows he himself cannot change the Raptors poor faith, so he needs the right man making the basketball moves. The Raptors may work long and hard on their offer to Jackson, but if they come up short don’t be surprised if Lieweke has another guy in mind to replace Colangelo, and make the Raptors a winning team.
For now, keep your ears open on Jackson to Toronto news, because the right offer could make a huge splash in the basketball world.