LOS ANGELES -- The seven and a half seasons Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan spent as coach and player came to an unceremonious end when the Chicago Bulls front-office team of owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause broke up the Bulls' championship squad for financial reasons.
Now that Jordan has assumed the role of principal owner of the Charlotte Bobcats after purchasing a stake in the team estimated at $250 million, he'll be sitting in Reinsdorf's chair and Jackson says he thinks Jordan is just the man for the job.
"I think it's a great opportunity for him," Jackson said before the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. "I think it's also an opportunity for Charlotte to get to kind of embrace basketball again. This was a team that led the NBA in attendance for maybe 10 years. They had a big arena, they fell in love with their Hornets team back in the late '80s and '90s and they had some great draft picks and they had some wonderful runs with their team."
Jackson has said he isn't interested in ever joining the front office of a team but was confident his former shooting guard had the tools to succeed as an owner.
"As far as ownership goes and general manager, I think there are a lot of players that are capable of doing that job," Jackson said. "You just have to be able to connive a little bit and be able to manipulate agents and I think those are things that it takes a poker player sometimes to do that."
All allusions to Jordan's gambling habits aside, Jackson defended Jordan's somewhat spotty reputation in the front office so far in Washington and Charlotte.
"I don't think there's any discussion about knowing talent," Jackson said. "He sees talent and knows talent pretty well. I think he understands that concept. I think a lot of key players see those ingredients in other players that can match that [like] Jerry West kind of picking up on Kobe Bryant being that kind of a player when he was a high school guy."
Jackson said the role of owner suited Jordan much more than Jackson's chosen profession of coaching.
"I think the other aspect of it that's difficult [for great players] is being a coach when you have to have players that don't have the talent that you might have possessed and not understanding the reality that they can't get the job done in some situations and you can't hold it against a player if the talent's not there perhaps to do all the things that you could do -- make the shot at that time or make the play," Jackson said.
Jackson said Jordan's return to his home state and the place where he became a star at the University of North Carolina should have an impact on the local fanbase.
"Michael brings a familiarity to that community and perhaps can help that community get some people in the seats," Jackson said.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.