It's not every day that Michael Jordan has something positive to say about the New York Knicks. After all, they spent the better part of a decade trying to knock him out (often literally) of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
But Phil Jackson is on board in New York now, which prompted MJ to offer a vote of confidence in his former coach.
Per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, Jordan told Stephen A. Smith:
Phil can do some good things with them because he's gifted. Phil is fantastic at managing egos and personalities, getting everyone on the same page and maxing out whatever potential is there for what should be the common and ultimate goal.
...Just because he's never been an executive before doesn't mean he can't do that. He's wanted to do it for a while now and I know he can do it...so long as he has the necessary pieces in place.
If anyone knows how difficult the transition from the hardwood to the front office is, it's Jordan. The Charlotte Bobcats are in playoff position now, but since Jordan took on a key ownership role in 2010, the road has been exceptionally rocky.
Jackson has a little more experience in talent evaluation and the subtleties of managing difficult personalities than Jordan does, though. So perhaps his path will be as smooth as MJ suspects.
We know for certain the Zen Master has a way of connecting with superstars like Jordan, and No. 23's endorsement is evidence of the respect Jackson still commands among the game's greats. Maybe the Knicks are hoping to leverage that cache in an effort to attract a few current stars.
Per Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, a source close to LeBron James believes Jackson's presence makes New York a much more interesting free-agent destination than it used to be: “There’s no way LeBron would have gone to New York under the current climate. He had a falling-out with CAA (agency) and that was a problem as well. But with Phil there I think he will look at it."
Realistically, Jackson's role with the Knicks isn't enough to attract big names. B/R's Dan Favale summed up the hard facts bluntly: "James can become a free agent this summer, at which point the Knicks can—well, they can do absolutely nothing. Even if Carmelo Anthony leaves, the Knicks still have no cap space."
Jackson can't work miracles, but at least he's a figure important people around the league respect. For a Knicks franchise that has spent the majority of this millennium as a laughingstock, that's a pretty big step forward.