Phil Jackson is one of the greatest and the most respected coaches in the modern era. Jackson is famous for being the man who moulded the Chicago Bulls from being almost solely reliant upon Michael Jordan, into a NBA championship force as a team (with a lot of help from Jordan as well). Following from this he was able to control the egos of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal as he coached the Los Angeles Lakers to championships as well.
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Jackson is also described as being not your a-typical personality of professional sports and someone a little 'left of centre'. Although this may be true one must recognise the following: 1) That in the egotistical world of professional sport it is hardly difficult to be considered different; and 2) having read this book I wonder how much of the perception of Jackson is objective and not down to his own self prophecy.
Sacred Hoops purports to be a description of the spiritual journey that Phil Jackson has gone on during his life and career in basketball and also the spiritual journey he sought to lead the unstoppable Chicago Bulls on as they won six championships in the 1990's. At best it is a philosophical reflection as rarely could it be said that Jackson describes his research or reflection as looking beyond his self for the divine.
In reality as I read through the book it felt more like a cobbled together series of quotes from Christianity, Buddhism, and Native American tribal culture that speak to the events in Jacksons career with the benefit of hindsight. This probably is not a 100% true statement, Jackson no doubt is widely read and has been for a great proportion of his life, but it appears too cute in places during this read that these single quotations from religious texts can speak wholly to the scenarios described by Jackson without reference to the greater contexts of the religious texts themselves. One could even go as far to say that it is disrespectful to practitioners of each of these religions that Jackson seemingly cherry picks bits and pieces that suit him and his story.
For those of us who grew up through the 1990's and loved Basketball and the Chicago Bulls for a period will get some satisfaction from reading back through the history of these great seasons where basketball glory rained heavily on the Windy City. Jackson does provide an honest insiders view of what he believed made the Chicago Bulls tick during this period and what helped them to be one of the most successful teams in history.
But it is not a great read. Particularly so if you reflect back (with greater hindsight) that if Jackson truly led this team (and its individuals) on a spiritual journey to betterment should they have obtained some more permanent value? Why is it then that most have seemed to continues living as ego-maniacs post their playing days? One star.
By Ben Roberts
By Ben Roberts