The National Basketball Association (NBA) is known for its exceptional players, coaches and management. Just like there is one basketball player who stands the test of time and is often referred to as the ‘face of basketball,’ Michael Jordan, there is also a coach who trained and got the most out of that player and others, and his name is Phil Jackson. The legend of coaches, who led the Chicago Bulls to victory six times over.
There are certain things that Phil Jackson did with his team, especially the Chicago Bulls, that have proven that he is one of the most eccentric and effective basketball coaches out there. It’s time to take a look at some of the more unique ways in which Phil Jackson coached.
Immense Player Safety
One of the best ways that Jackson coached was with his player’s safety in mind. He would ensure that his players received the correct medical attention and if they were injured, he’d let them have a proper recovery time. If they hurt their back and needed time off, time was given. If they injured their ankle and they needed ankle support for recovery, that’s what they got. Don’t forget, Jackson coached at a high level during the 90s, back when getting the most out of your players and not necessarily thinking about their long-term career was more of the fad. The fact that Jackson cared enough to have the team suffer without Jordan for a few weeks, to ensure that Jordan’s ankle injury received enough ankle support was something revolutionary back then. Nowadays, keeping players safe is part of the deal, thankfully. Players such as Franz and Moritz Wagner are keen advocates for player safety and you often see them sporting fashionable ankle braces to keep their joints safe.
Some of the best players to ever grace the courts of NBA arenas made up the 90s Chicago Bulls team. Players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were all tremendously talented athletes. Athletes who perform at the caliber that they did and endured the stress, scrutiny and press that they had to live through, whilst still performing at the highest level, needed time off. Much to the dismay of management and scouts at that time, like Jerry Krause, Jackson gave them time off. Once, Rodman disappeared for three days before a massive play-off because Jackson could see that if he didn’t give his player the time he needed to refresh, he wasn’t going to get the most out of him. This was an extremely unique and kind way of dealing with players. Allowing them to be humans before seeing them as only athletes.
Phil Jackson’s level of eccentricity knew no bounds. Back in the ’90s, before yoga and meditation had reached the popularity that people know them as today, Jackson had his super athletes on the floor doing downward dogs and trying to do stretches that would reduce the risk of injury. But Jackson didn’t leave it there, he also added more ways in which he felt would keep the players in the right frame of mind and introduced meditation into daily practices. The players would often form a circle and Jackson himself would guide them through the meditation, introducing game tactics and ways to avoid conflict during a match. He taught them how to keep their cool.
A True Three-Pointer
From the above, you can see the three main areas in which Phil Jackson managed to keep his team not only in check but managed to get them to perform at such a high level that they won six NBA titles under his leadership and almost all of that team was put into the Hall of Fame.
credit to Steve Simoneau/Associated Press for the image