Mark Jackson, the former NBA point guard and current analyst for ESPN and ABC, is having his name bandied about once again for the position of general manager of an NBA franchise. This time, New York's favorite son, Jackson was on the list of GM candidates to assume control of the New York Knicks for departing team President and GM Donnie Walsh. According to reports, Walsh submitted Jackson's name to owner James Dolan a month and a half ago.
Since 2007, Jackson's name pops up every time there is an opening in an NBA front office or head coaching position and he has still yet to take one of the jobs. The New York-bred Jackson would be a lot more welcome at Madison Square Garden than Knicks boomerang Isiah Thomas. Thomas' shadow is always lurking behind Dolan.
The former Knicks guard had been mentioned as a candidate for the Memphis Grizzlies GM post in 2007 and the Atlanta Hawks last season and has yet to leave the broadcast booth.
The question that is louder than an NCAA women's softball game is why is Jackson in such high demand?
There is no question about Jackson's NBA pedigree. He was the 18th pick coming out of St. John's and was Rookie-of-the-Year with the Knicks in 1987. In his 17-year career, Jackson acquired the third highest career assists total and was known as a tremendous leader on the floor. He even led the sickly Los Angeles Clippers to the playoffs...twice!
The 46 year-old Jackson has the court savvy and intellect only an all-time NBA player could gather and has become one of the finest analysts on television--in any sport. The problem, naysayers always bring up, is Jackson's lack any front office or coaching experience whatsoever.
There must be something behind Jackson's curt assessment of what he sees on the court which gets NBA teams' hearts aflutter whenever an opening arises.
Nobody knows the NBA as well as Jackson. After all, Jackson's calls a game like he played it--back to the basket, dribbling, slowly pushing his way to the hoop, then finishing with a flair. They instituted "the five-second rule" because of his get-off-my-back style and it still goes by the "Mark Jackson Rule."
Maybe teams believe Jackson's playing traits and smarts, which made Jackson's transition into a formidable analyst look easy, are the same intangibles which bring success to a GM or coach--even without management experience.
Stability and a young guard could take the team to the next level in 2012 said the believers. The Knicks then suckered wishful fans into paying more money for their seats next year. But even more frightening to the fans than that 49% rise in ticket prices is the possible resurrection of Dolan's lap-dog Thomas.
Yesterday, Thomas said words that sent chills all throughout the Knicks nation. When asked if he would return, Thomas grinned and said, "Never say never about anything. All my doors are open."
That sound you just heard was 19,000 fans--including Spike Lee--nailing the Garden's entrances shut.
Jackson may not be a front-runner for any GM position and rolling the dice on a front office newbie is a risky venture especially for the Knicks right now. But it's about time he took one of the offers and put to rest any questions of whether or not he is capable of running the show.
The only qualms holding him back in New York might be personal grudges he has against the Knicks organization.
In 1992, New York traded the popular Knick to, what was then, an eternity in hell--or more commonly known as the Los Angeles Memorial Sport Arena--home of the Clippers. Fast forward seventeen years, when the Knicks needed a head coach, and opted for Mike D'Antoni. Jackson was a little peeved after he found out his name was listed as number three on the Knicks coaching wish list.
When Walsh wanted to hire another St. John's star Chris Mullin as his GM last year, the idea was shot down by Dolan because it was rumored that the owner still had the hots for Thomas. Chances are, he still does.
Funny, that prophet who miscalculated the day of reckoning changed the new day of Rapture to October 21. Isn't that the first day of the Knicks season?