Phil Jackson is reportedly coming back to the New York Knicks.
No, the 68 year-old is not putting on his old jersey again and hitting the hardwood (though some for some games, that actually wouldn't be such a bad idea). Rather, Jackson is said to be coming onboard as president of the Knicks.
Madison Square Garden, owners of the New York Knicks, is hoping Jackson can bring the magic he brought on the court to the rest of the Knicks organization.
This would be his first front-office position for Jackson, one of the greatest coaches of all time (winning 70% of the 1,640 games he coached, the highest of any Hall of Fame coach). And, it will give him another thing in common with fiancée Jeanie Buss, president of the LA Lakers.
Running the Knicks is no small responsibility for MSG; the Knicks were estimated to be worth $1.1 billion less than a year ago, about a quarter of MSG's total market cap. Sports make up 30% of the company's $1.5 billion in annual revenues. Besides the Knicks, it also owns WNBA's New York Liberty, AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack, and, of course, the New York Rangers.
Besides sports, MSG owns arenas such as its namesake in New York (where it spent over $1 billion in renovations) and The Forum in Inglewood.
However, the company's big money comes from media properties such as Fuse, the music channel that is said to have just received a $200 million bid from Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. Media makes up half of MSG's revenues. And, of course, both MSG and Cablevision are controlled by the same family – the Dolans, particularly Charles and his son James.
According to CNBC contributor Zachary Karabell, Head of Global Strategy at Envestnet and President of RiverTwice Research, the Dolans management of MSG is very similar to another New York sports team which had a former player turn things around and bring home the championship.
"It's certainly not a bad thing if Phil Jackson shows up like the proverbial knight in shining armor," says Karabell. "This reminds me a little of the Steinbrenner/Yankees saga before they hired Joe Torre."
Karabell believes the Dolans' management of MSG is dysfunctional. "It's certainly been a complicated series of management decisions at least around the two major sports teams, the Knicks and the Rangers," says Karabell. "So, [hiring Jackson] could be a positive catalyst."
Yet Karabell cautions investors from buying MSG's stock on the short-term based solely on the potential employment of Jackson.
"If you're going to own this company, you're not going to own it for the Phil Jackson play," says Karabell. "That would be one of the odder short-term trades."
Talking Numbers contributor Richard Ross, Global Technical Strategist at Auerbach Grayson, disagrees. He believes the stock could get some bounce from Phil Jackson joining management.
"I think this Phil Jackson [possible] hiring could be just the fundamental catalyst to unlock the potential of this otherwise bullish setup," says Ross. He notes that the stock doubled from the start of 2012 through the first quarter of 2013 only to trade sideways for the past year. But, he believes the pattern is positive for the stock.
"We moved from a trending position into a sideways countertrend flag," says Ross "That's a bullish continuation pattern that tells me overbought conditions have eased and the stock is consolidating for another leg up."
Should the stock break above $60 per share, Ross sees a significant move on the upside ahead. Shares of MSG closed at $57.71 on Wednesday.
"I like the move from a personnel standpoint and I like the stock from an investing standpoint," says Ross. "I would be a buyer here."
To see the full discussion on what's next for Madison Square Garden with Karabell on the fundamentals and Ross on the technicals, watch the video above.
- Phil Jackson
- Madison Square Garden