Complex as he is colorful, Phil Jackson has led an improbable basketball life, marching to the tune of his own iconoclastic drummer and managing to win at every level along the way. He doesn't think like an average jock, nor does he approach his game like one: just ask Michael Jordan or Shaquille O'Neal, who've played better for him than for anyone else. Roland Lazenby couldn't have come up with a better title for his compelling exploration of what makes Jackson tick and how he evolved into one of the most successful and driven coaches in NBA history; for Jackson, the joy of his game is every bit as cerebral and psychological as it is physical. His aim, he says, is to help his players "strengthen the muscle of their minds."
Of course, Jackson--part shaman, part shrink, part mentor, part guide--has found some fascinating ways to strengthen his own, including LSD, meditation, Zen, Native American culture, William James's Varieties of Religious Experience, and the Grateful Dead. They are as much a part of Jackson's evolving core as pounding the offensive boards with the Knicks and warring with Bulls' management. If some of it seems contradictory, it is those very contradictions--more than the seven championship rings as a coach and two as a player--that make Jackson so interesting; they have helped him reshape and redefine the job. "Somehow," writes Lazenby, "Jackson has managed the very difficult feat of blending fun and discipline and spiritual exploration for his teams, sort of like combining a trip to the dentist with a carnival ride." No other coach has learned to walk that delicate balance so gracefully. But then, balance is Jackson's operating metaphor: keeping himself--and his teams--in balance while keeping opponents off theirs.
In Mindgames, Lazenby puts together a smart, solidly reported, and balanced portrait of a Zen master with a dark, driven side. He respects Jackson enough to not whitewash him. After all, innovators have a way of stepping on toes, and in basketball, the shoes, like the personalities, tend to be oversized. --Jeff Silverman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A must for any serious student of basketball.”—Gary Dretzka, Chicago Tribune
(Gary Dretzka Chicago Tribune
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback
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