Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

The Mystery And History Of Sport's Front Office

Phil Jackson recently signed on as the new president of the New York Knicks. i i

Phil Jackson recently signed on as the new president of the New York Knicks. Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Lennihan/AP
Phil Jackson recently signed on as the new president of the New York Knicks.

Phil Jackson recently signed on as the new president of the New York Knicks.

Mark Lennihan/AP

One great mystery of sport is why they call the place that the general manager rules over the front office. Obviously, it's the box office that's out front. What they call the front office is really the "office office."

The front office has grown exponentially. Once it was pretty much just the general manager. Now it's added scouts and assistant GMs and statisticians. Another change: The general manager is usually called president. And once GMs started to be called presidents, the law of unintended consequences set in and that made an owner think that to one-up his president, he had to do more than just own.

Coaches get famous, but as a general rule, coaches don't make good general managers. Different talents. It's like the best assistant coaches usually don't make good head coaches. Different talents.

Recently, the New York Knicks named brilliant coach Phil Jackson to be general manager, er, president. What made Jackson so successful as coach was that he could relate to his players, actually coach them. He had a shtick that was hyped as sort of a trickle-down zen. However, these talents are pretty useless in the front office. Jackson will surely get a disciple to coach the team. Everybody will say Jackson has installed so-and-so as his coach, which sounds to the players like they just put in a new washing machine. It never works.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on the issue.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford