As a head coach for the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson often assigned players books to read that he thought would benefit their mentality and approach to the game.
Though he no longer coaches, as president of the New York Knicks, he’s brought the same practice to the team, as has his disciple and current Knicks coach Derek Fisher.
As Wall Street Journal’s Chris Herring writes, while Fisher has given individual players specific books to read, last season, Jackson gave each player a copy of “There Is No Next” by Sam Smith, an oral history about Michael Jordan’s NBA legacy.
According to Herring, Jackson hoped it would teach players to have the right intensity toward the game. Herring writes:
Last year, Jackson gave each of the Knicks a copy of “There Is No Next,” Sam Smith’s latest read on Michael Jordan’s legacy. He said he wanted the players, especially Carmelo Anthony, to grasp the level of intensity needed to be a champion.
Though, according to Herring, Jackson doesn’t read as much anymore because he doesn’t travel with the team, he said, “a book is still something that can grab [the players’] attention when it’s good or in their zone.”
Anthony, however, said giving out the book “was kind of bad timing” because the Knicks were adjusting to a new coach and the triangle offence, which befuddled several players on the roster.
Herring also says that Jackson used to give out copies of one of his own books, “Sacred Hoops,” to Bulls and Lakers players.
Past books he’s given to players include: “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morris to Michael Jordan, “The Ways of White Folks” by Langston Hughes to Scottie Pippen, “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse to Shaquille O’Neal, and “Montana 1948” by Larry Watson to Kobe Bryant.
Fisher has picked up the same practice. He reportedly gave 20-year-old Latvian rookie Kristaps Porzingis a book called “The Positive Dog,” which uses a pair of dogs to demonstrate the importance of a positive outlook on life.
Though the Knicks still have plenty of work to do to continue their rebuild, Jackson has several times stressed the importance of a “culture” change within the organisation, and this seems to be one step toward doing that.
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