William Wesley — better known to fans as “Worldwide Wes,” a man with incredible influence on players as a friend and father figure — has had a lot of influence within the Knicks organization over the years. Now, he is doing so officially.
The Knicks hired Wesley as their Executive Vice President – Senior Basketball Advisor. Wesley long has been new team president Leon Rose‘s right-hand man, but shortly after Rose was hired the Knicks shot down the idea Wesley would be following him into the front office. That proved to be a smokescreen.
“We are very excited to announce the hiring of William Wesley, someone that I have known for over 40 years and consider to be family,” Rose said in a statement (which is all he has officially ever done, he has yet to have a press conference since taking over the team, but he is sitting down with Mike Breen this week for television). “He is one of the most well-connected and respected people in the basketball community and he will be a tremendous asset and resource to both myself and the New York Knicks.”
“My long history with and respect for Jim Dolan and Leon Rose, as well as the chance to be part of the New York Knicks made this an opportunity I wanted to pursue,” Wesley said. “I look forward to joining the current staff and moving the organization toward a successful future.”
Wesley has long had influence in the Garden, but he preferred to work more in the shadows. Wesley was tight with Carmelo Anthony and, after Isiah Thomas was forced out of the Knicks hierarchy, Wesley was the guy who had owner James Dolan’s ear. Wesley’s gift is that he is seemingly everywhere — he is “worldwide” — having relationships at Nike, with college players, at the AAU level, with all kinds of pros. He builds relationships and had the trust of people at every level of basketball.
The Knicks have made some other smart hires: both Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin are assistant general managers, Brock Aller is a VP of basketball and strategic planning, and the Knicks picked up Alex Kline and TJ Zanin as scouts.
The Knicks still need to hire a head coach for next season, and while they are conducting a lot of interviews Tom Thibodeau is considered the clear frontrunner around the league.
Can Rose lead all these people to start to turn the Knicks around (which is going to be like turning an oil tanker around at sea, it’s going to take some time)? Can Rose save Dolan from his instincts around the team? Time will tell.