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Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success Paperback – April 29, 2014
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Phil Jackson won an unprecedented 11 championship rings as an NBA coach (6 with the Chicago Bulls and 5 with the Los Angeles Lakers). He begins this memoir with a brief exploration of his childhood as the son of two practicing ministers, an experience that laid the foundation for his approach to coaching. As a young man, Jackson realized he couldn’t accept his parents’ faith, but he explored any number of religions and consciousness-raising movements to satisfy his spiritual yearnings. To a casual fan, meditation, Buddhism, and Native American spirituality may seem an odd mix of resources with which to motivate highly paid, often egocentric professional athletes. Jackson, however, made it work, combining sincerity with a message of teamwork and trust; of course, a healthy dose of basketball acumen didn’t hurt, either. Jackson’s story, augmented by behind-the-scenes anecdotes involving Michael, Shaq, Kobe, and others, makes for great reading. Hoop fans: read this alongside Bob Knight’s recent The Power of Negative Thinking (2013) and then determine which coaching style would motivate you more and improve your life outside of basketball. --Wes Lukowsky --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Through candor and comprehensiveness, Jackson writes a convincing revisionist take, in which he emerges as an excellent coach...highly readable...reflects Jackson’s polymathy."—The New York Times Book Review
"Part sports memoir, part New Age spirit quest, part pseudo-management tract...But the primary thing with Jackson — as with all the old bards, who were also known for repeating themselves — is the voice."—Sam Anderson, The New York Times Magazine
"The legendary Bulls and Lakers leader's new book finally enlightened me to Jackson's lifelong dedication to the game."—The Atlantic
"He tells you at different times to see beyond what is seen and to hear the unheard...applicable to groups in any walk of life."—The Bleacher Report
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Top Customer Reviews
There are a few points I found most interesting. Jackson discusses the limited similarities between part of a winning sports team and part of a tight-knit military unit. He also discusses the difference between championship teams and less successful teams, and even the variences between championship teams he has coached or played for. Since I have had the privilege of living both experiences (not at the professional sports level), I found the comparisons and contrasts effective. He rightly points out that playing basketball is not the same as being willing to smother a live grenade to save a comrade's life, but that the best teams, in any walk of life, develop trust and love for each other. Their ability to perform at the highest levels goes beyond purely technical skill or physical talent and approaches the spiritual.
Jackson talks frequently about Kobe Bryant and there are some comparisons to him and Michael Jordan made in the book. I found all of the comments Jackson makes about the many players he's coached to be interesting because he recognizes each had particular challenges and gifts, as do we all. How he helped individual players, and the teams, to overcome their challenges and successfully utilize their individual and collective gifts was insightful and a demonstration of his genius at people skills.
The last point I want to share is that I feel Phil Jackson often gets unfairly criticized because he won championships while having all-world talent on each championship team. Any coach would like to have Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant play on the roster. It takes talent to win-both playing and coaching. All of those players played for other coaches who didn't win championships while they were teamed up. Phil Jackson repeatedly brings home the lessons of team chemistry, motivation, maximizing an individual's talents, human relationships and a myriad of other "soft-skills" which are difficult for some people to accept as the other reasons for his success. It wasn't just about having the best players. John Wooden, Pat Riley, Red Aurbach and Phil Jackson were successful because they knew how to develop and utilize the talent of their players to become champions. Jackson shares insights on how he was able to help great players become part of great teams.
11 Rings will read like Phil Jackson's other books, so if you liked them, you will most likely enjoy this one. I believe he merits discussion as being the greatest basketball coach in history, if that means much to you. Certainly, anyone who reads 11 Rings and is a basketball fan will find some nuggets here. Likewise, anyone who is interested in building family, teamwork, people skills or leadership skills can read 11 Rings and find some useful lessons and interesting insights.
11 Rings is quite good, but not a significant or innovative contribution to literature. Because of the organization of Jackson's thoughts and the similarity to his previous books, I believe this rates 4 stars. Enjoy!
If you don't identify with any of the scenarios above, I can't say if this book is right for you. But if you like the Bulls, Phil Jackson, Dennis Rodman, or the Lakers then you will enjoy this book. It was just fun to read an inside perspective of the NBA both from a player's and a coach's standpoint. Although the book started off slow, it really starts to pick up when it gets into Phil's coaching career. I read this book right after reading Shaq's Uncut book. I think it was a good order to read the books in.
This book goes through Phil's Jackson's career from player to end of his coaching crusade with the beginnings of his adventure with the Knick's office. It really felt like I was reliving his journey and was given a genuine insight into his mindset during these times.