The Zen Master

“Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.”
NBA Coach Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson and NBA Championships go hand in hand. Phil was drafted by the New York Knicks out of North Dakota in 1967. Jackson was a member of the 1969-70 Champion Knicks team although he did not play that season due to a back injury. Phil was a key contributor to the 1972-73 Knicks  Championship team and played in the NBA for more than a decade.

Jackson has been the Head Coach of 11 NBA Championship teams; six with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 11 titles are the most won by any NBA Coach; Red Auerbach is second with nine.

The 2010-11 season may be Jackson’s final season as a coach.

Many coaches have dictatorial styles. This quote from Phil Jackson gives some insight into his philosophy.Phil tried to become an NBA Coach for many years before becoming a Bulls assistant and then Head Coach in 1989. To many, he was considered part of the “counterculture.”

Jackson had an immediate impact on the Bulls. He got Michael Jordan to become more of a “team” player. The result: six Championships in Jordan’s final seven years with the Bulls.

Phil Jackson also had an immediate impact on the Lakers. He was able to get Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on the same page. The result: three straight Championships. After the three Championships it all came apart. Phil left the Lakers and wrote a book in which he was quite critical of Kobe.

In spite of that, Phil returned to the Lakers, reunited with Kobe and the Lakers have won two more Championships.

Phil bought into Tex Winter and his “triangle offense.” I do think the number one reason why Phil Jackson has been so successful is that in addition to having an open mind and a compassionate heart is that he is a great communicator. In fact,  he probably is a great communicator because he has an open mind and a compassionate heart.

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