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Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success Hardcover – May 21, 2013
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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
"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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The reason I titled the review what I did, was because this isn't just purely basketball, and it's not even just 50/50 basketball/spiritualism. It's got basketball, it's got spiritualism, it's got philosophy, and more. I was never big on the zen or meditation stuff, and still am not, but he makes a lot of it sound a lot more practical and helpful than I've read/heard before.
It takes you behind the scenes for mostly all of his championship teams, and early on when he played for the Knicks and ends after his last year as the coach of the Lakers. You get his thoughts on the similarities and differences between Jordan and Kobe, some of the reasons behind the Kobe/Shaq feud, and what brought the teams of individuals together to be a championship caliber team. If you love the sport, you'll love this book.
If I were reading this as a paperback or hardback, it'd be totally dog-eared. Instead, almost every chapter is about 50% highlighted.
It was thrilling to relive experiences that I'd watched as a fan of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. But, I was most intrigued by the intricacies of motivating and unifying such outsized personalities. My kindle edition is FILLED with ideas that I can implement in my own work as a pastor.
I highly recommend this book. It's a compelling read. It's fascinating to relive moments you've lived through as a fan of the game. But it's equally as compelling for the practical ways that it reveals for working with, supporting and getting the best from a variety of different personalities that show up in every organization.
NBA fans will appreciate Jackson’s insight on the men he has coached. Jordan and Pippen; Kobe and Shaq; Rodman and Metta World Peace. Jackson does not shy away from addressing the controversies – whether the Bulls or Lakers. He is at his best when discussing the web of team relationships; Jackson and co-author Hugh Delehanty make us feel like they’re catching us up on family news. Older readers will also appreciate Jackson’s unique perspective on the dramatic 1970 NBA Finals against the Lakers, as an injured member of the Knicks.
Jackson is popularly known as a “Zen master.” You will learn much about what this means, and whether there is anything in his toolkit that you can adopt for your own situation. He wants us to know how he encouraged strong personalities who had conflicting ideas about what it would take to succeed, to function together at a magnificent level.
The book drags in places; many of the basketball stories read like straight history text; the authors could have spent more time polishing or even cutting them. There are lots of good books on leadership available that get the same ideas across with fewer words. But by writing as he has, Jackson has given himself an opportunity to reach people who might not necessarily pick up another leadership book. And it is important to hear about it from Jackson because his results cannot be questioned. So in the end, he’s done well. ‘Eleven Rings” is a generous scoop of who these teams were and how Jackson led them to the top of their profession.