The words seemed to dissolve into the smoky gloom, swallowed up by a weird buzzing that sounded like cicadas but lower, deeper. The Assistant stood at the threshold of Phil Jackson’s buckskin tepee, which sat perched on an outcropping on the edge of Flathead Lake.
How do you want to remember Phil Jackson? Let me answer that question for you. You want to think of him as the lord of the rings, the coach who mentored and mind-gamed some of the best basketball players in the history of the game, the brains behind some of the NBA's most dominant teams, the architect of the Triangle offense. You want to think of him as the Zen Master, the guy who preferred to motivate with great works of literature rather than tired clichés.
There used to be something mysterious about Jackson. He was that guy with an outsize, collapsible frame, sitting on the bench between Tex Winter (the actual architect of the Triangle offense, along with Johnny Bach) and Jimmy Cleamons, staring knowingly at the action on the court, refusing to call a timeout and making his players correct themselves on the fly. He was able to get through to Michael Jordan after Doug Collins had failed. He was able to bridge the gap between Shaq and Kobe. He was a font of wisdom, an all-knowing, fly-fishing, koan-spitting genius. After all, he is the guy who said, "If you meet the Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball."
Which makes it all the more depressing that he now sounds like any other asshole ex-coach on talk radio.
If you're Phil Jackson and you ever feel like reminding everyone about your place in this universe, here are two quick words you can go with — Eleven. Rings.
Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty is the first book by the Zen Master in nine years. It tells the story of Phil's journey from rural North Dakota to bright lights and Larry O'Brien Trophies in Los Angeles.
With that, we present to you the first look at the cover:
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons intercepted Chiefs QB Matt Cassel in overtime to set up a game-winning field goal in a 16-13 win, but Pittsburgh lost Ben Roethlisberger with a sprained shoulder in the third quarter. "I feel like we're getting really, really close," said Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel, gritting his teeth and closing his eyes at the press conference. "So close now. Come on. Ahhhhhhh! Yes. Wow. Done. Sorry, I had to fart. What was the question?"
Shawn Marion, fiercely proud and a little defensive, was fond of telling reporters during the height of the Seven Seconds or Less Era in Phoenix that players made “genius” coaches like Mike D’Antoni look good.
Marion is obviously oversimplifying. Head coaches are hugely important, maybe third on the importance hierarchy in any franchise, behind only the owner and the franchise superstar (if one is present). There are a few reasons why Chicago will rank among the three or five best defensive teams this season and going forward, but Tom Thibodeau’s presence is probably the biggest factor.
But a coach can only work with the players on hand, and the Lakers’ roster brings some structural issues — largely outlined here — that were going to challenge whomever the team named as Mike Brown’s in-season replacement. In a shocking reversal, they’ve chosen D’Antoni’s spread pick-and-roll system over the triangle and Phil Jackson, whose salary demands and requests for broader organizational control were apparently too much for the Buss family, per the Los Angeles Times and others. Inking D’Antoni to a three-year deal, with an option for a fourth season, may also be a signal that the Lakers believe his style is a better fit for the only pieces — Steve Nash and Dwight Howard — on the books beyond 2013-14, assuming the Lakers convince Howard to re-sign this summer on a max deal.