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eBook by Roland Lazenby
eBook Category: Sports/Entertainment/People
eBook Description: National bestseller reveals the man behind eight NBA championships. Mindgames follows the journey of Phil Jackson to the top of basketball's coaching hierarchy, a rise that took him from failure and obscurity in the CBA to eight championship rings in the NBA. Along the way he turned multimillionaire players on to meditation, transformed the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls from a one-man show into a five-man team of domination, and, after battling with Bulls management, ended one dynasty to start another on the West Coast. Sportswriter Roland Lazenby, author of the bestselling Blood on the Horns and Mad Game, reveals the fascinating elements of Jackson's life and mental approach to coaching that have made followers of his players but also have made him--perhaps not surprisingly--unpredictable and sometimes unpopular to outsiders. It is also a detailed basketball story, with entertaining accounts from Jackson's years with the New York Knicks under the legendary Red Holzman to his remarkable eight championships coaching first the Chicago Bulls and then the Los Angeles Lakers. Includes a new chapter on the 2000-2001 season, in which Jackson and the Lakers overcame the perils of success and team-breaking player infighting to capture their second consecutive NBA title. In Mindgames, Lazenby compellingly portrays a man with a unique determination to control the competitive environment he inhabits. A clear picture of the Jackson mystique emerges: philosopher, teacher, manipulator, counselor, psychologist, shaman, champion, master of mind games.
eBook Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies/McGraw-Hill, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2002
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: SECURE EREADER (RECOMMENDED) FORMAT [542 KB]
All formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
eReader ISBN: 0071400028
"A must for any serious student of basketball."--Gary Dretzka, Chicago Tribune
It was the same routine after every Bulls game: The publicity assistant would bring the two cigarettes and the beer. The coach would draw deep on the first cigarette, then take a drink of beer. Then a deep breath. A sigh would follow, the sort of sigh that seemed to contain all of Phil Jackson's pent-up energy from the game. Then he would gaze at the stat sheet, replaying the events in his mind as he read and smoked and drank. Nearby, Tex Winter, his longtime assistant, would be fussing over travesties... poorly thrown passes, errant shots, defensive breakdowns. Never mind that they had won by a dozen, that the team had long sustained a virtual orgy of winning -- Winter still bubbled with indignation, which Jackson somehow managed to ignore and comprehend all at the same time.
His predecessor in Chicago, Doug Collins, was a nice guy who became a screamer, a raw, raving, frenetic man on the sidelines, thrusting his entire psyche out there for public view. Johnny Bach, Collins's old friend and assistant coach, laughed just recalling the difference between the two. "This guy would be worn out. Sweat was pouring off of him, veins were bulging. Doug had given every ounce of his energy. Phil, on the other hand, had this ability to sit there through the evening. He could walk off afterward and nod to people. He might have reached that same fever pitch as Collins had during the game. Phil had reached that pitch internally, but he never showed it externally."
Bach had his conflicts with Jackson, yet the older assistant had great respect for the younger coach's approach -- especially during games, in the heat of battle. "Phil was at his best in that cauldron," Bach said. "Like the psychologist that he is, he's going to find a very different approach to solving problems. He will not get in your face and say, 'Let's get this settled now.' "
During games both Bach and Winter would beseech him to call timeouts. "Phil would just look at me," Bach recalled, "and he'd say, 'Johnny, I heard you, I'm just not gonna do it.' "
Bach said that he and Winter would request a timeout twice, and if he didn't respond they would give up. "He has this strength, this resolve," Bach said, "to endure whatever the results are."
It was Jackson's calm on the sidelines that immediately appealed to Michael Jordan. Dean Smith, Jordan's coach at the University of North Carolina, had displayed a similar presence of mind, and Jordan found it as comforting as he found Collins's frothing disconcerting.
Later, when Jackson joined the Los Angeles Lakers, Rick Fox, another former North Carolina player, was struck by how much Jackson's calm reminded him of Dean Smith. There was, however, one substantial difference.
"Phil swears," Fox explained with a chuckle.
Whereas Smith did not like foul language, Jackson decorated all of his expressions with it. "You could fuck up a one-car funeral," he told Toni Kukoc one night. (Jackson was later contrite about the comment.)
Both of Jackson's parents were fundamentalist preachers who tightly controlled his childhood, so it stood to reason that drinking, smoking, and cussing would bring him a liberating sense of satisfaction. Thus, he had to have the quick smoke, the quick beer, after each game before he could even address the team. Jackson called the smoke and the drink "getting his space." In his early years of coaching, that space came in the cramped bowels of Chicago Stadium, the old sandstone sarcophagus. In later years he would have the comforts of fancy offices in the United Center and Staples Center. Wherever it was, his ritual was mostly the same: the smoke, the drink, the replaying of events, the sigh, the quiet releasing of all that pent-up emotion from the game.
"He needed that few minutes of space before he could even talk to the team," recalled an associate. "After he talked to the team he would need another few minutes of space before he could talk to the media."
Jackson was always firm and direct in talking to his players after games, rarely raising his voice. And after tough losses he could be especially consoling, commending their great effort, telling them it just wasn't meant to be.
Later he would spend hours reviewing the videotapes and picking apart the performance play by play, isolating exactly what had gone wrong and why. But his verdicts were hardly ever delivered with anything that resembled insistence or stridence.
"He is a hands-on manager, but with a different approach in every way," Bach said. "It's deeply psychological. It's from the heart, except that he's able to separate it from his emotions. He's sort of a mystery to the players because he is not predictable. He doesn't overreact, or sometimes even react at all. Yet he has a firm hand. The great strength of Phil is that he is always very aware of what is happening. He could see things on the bench, or in the locker room, but he never moved too quickly to fix things. He would only do that after he had thought about it. Then he would do just what was needed to calm the situation and the problem.
"The most important thing is that he has never sought their love. There are many coaches who want to be loved, who have to be loved, and go down in flames as a result of it. Pro athletes just aren't going to do that. They aren't going to give you that love if you seek it."
Because he seemingly never sought it, Phil Jackson got what other coaches craved. He saw that on game nights, sitting there watching his players -- first the Bulls, then the Lakers -- execute his marvelously disciplined vision of the game. He would toast the results in private -- the cigarette, the beer, the sigh, his communion in that mystic realm that only he understood.
Copyright © 2001 by Roland Lazenby