But with the arrival of Phil Jackson (and the re-assignment of Mills to General Manager), many initially wondered if the two could work together. Known for reeling in and relying upon his own familiar confidants, would Jackson even want to work with Mills?
As the thirteen-time NBA champion came into power with the Knicks, Mills' name once again resurfaced as a potential candidate for Executive Director of the NBPA. A highly regarded individual known for his ability to build relationships and personable demeanor, Mills is well-liked by all. He'd be more than able to help keep the peace between the players and the league. What's more, whereas Mills' handle on the basketball side of things in an organization has been questioned by some, his savvy nature as a successful businessman could undoubtedly aid him in such an alternative role.
July 27: Mills replied to the story...
As the NBPA inches closer towards naming its new fearless leader, Mills is not among the three finalists reported by Yahoo! Sports. Having said that, there are still rumblings (as recently as this past week) that the Knicks' G.M. could still have a shot at the job, nonetheless.
By now, as fate would have it, Jackson and Mills have developed a strong working relationship in recent months. The two could be seen together at NBA Summer League, and as Jackson's right-hand man, Mills is seemingly the ying to his yang. Whereas Jackson knows basketball better than just about anybody in The Association, Mills knows what it takes to maintain relationships across the league. He's a schmoozer, which is clearly something Jackson is not. As a fierce competitor, sometimes one has to put their foot on the neck of their opponents to pull away with meaningful victories. As a coach, Jackson wasn't necessarily concerned with keeping his opponents happy.
Alas, that's where Mills comes in. He fits in that role as a liaison of sorts between the Knicks and others across the league. As such, Jackson and Mills have been able to find a successful balance of power, or better yet, responsibility.
Surprisingly enough, it would appear as though New York would feel the loss, if Mills happens to pull ahead as a likely candidate for the NBPA gig yet again.