Phil Jackson: Why There Will Never Be Another Zen Master
I'll be the first to admit that the NBA has a wealth of great coaches at the helms of their teams. That being said, the number of legendary coaches will soon drop to zero.
It appears that the Utah Jazz will have Jerry Sloan until he finally collapses. Sloan seems to have no intention on leaving the bench in the foreseeable future, and as long as he's coaching there will always be some old school presence in the NBA.
Phil Jackson on the other hand, has no such plans.
Jackson has suffered from health problems in recent years on the bench, and he's starting to wonder if maybe his days would be better spent making sure they didn't worsen. He also has a ranch in Montana that has been calling his name for years now with the promise of relaxation and quality time with his family.
It's going to be tough for Phil to leave his favorite game, but the truth is that the Zen Master has more plans for himself. He has reached and scaled the mountain top in Basketball and would like to see what else he can accomplish.
Who could really blame him?
That being the truth, it will be a very sad day when he does retire. Some coaches that we have today in the NBA will reach greatness a time or two, but none of them will ever really become the things of legend that Phil Jackson has embodied over his career.
I know what you're thinking, and no, it's not just about all the rings he has. It goes much deeper than that. It's the unorthodox way he has gone about becoming one of the greatest coaches of all time.
The Lakers are down eight points with only two minutes to go. Why has Phil Jackson not called a timeout?
He doesn't disrupt the game, because he usually doesn't need to. He's already addressed his team on what they need to do in this situation, and he now he wants nothing more than to see them work through their troubles on their own.
can you think of any other coach who would not immediately call for time in this situation?
Didn't think so.
Phil Jackson is confident in the work that he has already put in, and nobody believes that this is the time for his team to either pass the test or realize on their own that there is much work to be done.
Either way, he wins.
I'll be the first to admit that this style does not always work. After all, no strategy works 100 percent of the time. What I will say is that his method has proven to be very effective, especially in important games.
Had Phil called a time out at the end of Game 4 vs. the Magic in 2009, Fisher may have never hit the rhythm three pointer that got the Lakers back in it.
It goes against everything most people would teach you about in coaching, but so does just about everything Phil Jackson does.
The Mind Games
After all these years, people still wonder why Phil Jackson drops mini-media bombs before big matchups.
He's not just being a senile old man, people. Phil Jackson is a very smart man who has a strict gameplan in terms of snatching the upper hand away from anyone who has it. He knows exactly what will throw the team off, or the refs off, and he will use it to get inside their heads if only to gain the slightest advantage.
He may get fined from time to time, but the impressions he leaves on those who hear his words have already been done. Jackson knows who is calling the game, and if he has a concern he will voice it. He also knows who gets superstar treatment and will make that known as well.
He also knows how to use these famous mind games on his own team. Whether his team wins or loses, he always has a game plan that he needs to follow in order to keep the team on the right track. He drops comments in the locker room and even to the media on how he thinks the team may be lacking in some way. When the players see these comments that he never mentioned to them, it gets under their skin.
Whatever the Zen Master has dictated. They will be fired up if he so chose, or more composed if he thought they were losing their way. He is a master of getting people on the same page and has no reservations of using on his own troops.
Most coaches will do a lot to help their team to victory, but Phil Jackson will do nearly everything. Losing a little pocket change on the way has never seemed to bother him.
Does this guy have some major nerve or what?!
He says what he wants, does what he wants, coaches his own way and dates the boss' daughter!
It's all part of the intriguing puzzle that is Phil Jackson.
He carries with him this unstoppable bravado that tells us it's just better off that we let him do his thing. Part of this bravado is his extremely dry and sarcastic sense of humor. Every one of his players would tell you that he has an interesting way in which he interacts with people that most would not find to be all that normal.
The biggest feather in his cap has to be the fact that he has been in a relationship with Jeane Buss, for quite some time now. He must really have a way with people to be able to just waltz into one of the biggest families in the history of Los Angeles.
Whether it's his way with the ladies, or his inexplicable gall to put his two cents in on any subject basketball, Phil Jackson has a personality and aura about him that separates him from the pack.
The Zen Found In Few Men
How does he manage to keep his cool so well when it looks like all is lost for the Lakers?
Simple answer: he's the Zen Master.
Not only does he subscribe to the Zen way of life, he brings it into the locker room as often as he can. Players have mentioned that Phil likes to burn incense in the locker room, say less as opposed to more in terms of what needs to be fixed and will intentionally play mind games with them in order to get the result out of the team that he sees fit.
His philosophies greatly impact his mood and also the reactions he gives to momentous occasions. I have often observed that Phil Jackson will have the same look on his face when Kobe makes or misses the game-winning three-pointer.
This is because Jackson's Zen approach to living allows him to remain composed, even in extreme moments.
His style may be different from other great coaches such as the flamboyant Red Auerbach, but it certainly yields similar if not better results.
The Lord Of The Rings
I had to talk about the rings at some point, right?
Many fans regard Phil Jackson as a "lucky" coach rather than one of the best. While everyone is allowed their opinion, that's one of the most ignorant opinions I have ever heard. Phil Jackson has been truly blessed with the legends he has been able to coach, but they alone are not the reason Jackson has been so prolifically successful.
Jackson won six titles with MJ/Pippen and the Bulls and five titles thus far with Shaq/Kobe/Gasol and the Lakers. He also walked into both coaching situations with nearly identical rosters as the coach before him.
You know, the coach that couldn't get the job done.
Phil brought his eccentric ways to both rosters and obviously changed the way those teams functioned at the most fundamental levels. The success he has experienced and equaled 11 coaching rings, one more than a similar legend of the NBA, Red Auerbach.
The biggest note is that he's not even done yet. He claims this will be his last year, but nothing can certain at this point. The Lakers have another great chance at raising another banner this year and adding to the immense ring collection of Phil Jackson.
When It All Goes Down
When it all goes down, Phil Jackson will be regarded as the best coach the National Basketball Association has ever seen.
It's not just the rings that people will think of when they remember Mr. Jackson, but more the way in which we went about accumulating them. He refused to form to any typical coach mold, and instead, like Frank Sinatra, he decided to do it his own way.
He's coached some of the greatest players the game will ever see.
He plays mind games and makes no apologies for it.
He has the audacity to call you out and even date the boss' daughter.
He shattered coaching records all throughout his amazing career.
He is the Zen Master, Phil Jackson. And there will never be another one like him.