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Tues, Oct 30, 2001

Lakers Reading List


     Welcome to Phil Jackson's Book Club -- Jackson, head coach of the back-to-back 2000-2001 NBA Champion Lakers, 6-Time NBA Champion Bulls and all-around Zen Master, distributes selected books to individual players in a part-gift, part-educational ritual.

     Jackson started the handouts when he was coaching the Bulls. Sometimes he could almost hear the "thunks" as certain players swiftly dropped their gifts into the nearest garbage cans. Other times he could almost hear the whirring of minds as players digested the tales.

     Here's a list of some of Phil's handouts:

Shaquille O'Neal -- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
     Jackson chose this book because he wanted Shaq to realize that many things must be tried, found wanting and then put aside before the true goal in life, or sport, can be approached. "I wanted Shaq to sense the discipline, the asceticism, the denial of food, sleep and other deprivations of Siddhartha along the path to salvation, and to see how Siddhartha found salvation finally through good works." "Siddhartha had to find a path of his own intuition," Jackson says. "I wanted Shaq to take the steps to inner peace, to become quiet, to get into the attitude of non-attention to desire. Not to eliminate it, but not to fall prey to desire. For Shaq it has to be his own path. Until you get on that path, there won't be an answer." "He really seemed to like it," Jackson says. "He knew what I was trying to get across and he appreciated it."

     What did Shaq get in 2000? Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is by Friedrich Nietzsche.

Kobe Bryant  --  Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
     The story is a tale of the steadfastness and adaptiveness of certain Greek island residents during the occupation of their land by the Italians during World War II. Bryant was raised for a good spell in Italy and speaks fluent Italian, and the coach thought this book might resonate with him. "The point of the book was that you can't always dictate the terms of what your life is going to be," Jackson says. "Those Greeks are going to be overrun and organized by the Italians. So they learn how to win by losing, in a way. 'We are going to be occupied, now how do we get along?'"

     What did Kobe get in 2000?  The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty -- about an unusual African-American's search for his identity. The main character is a street poet and basketball prodigy raised in a predominantly white community.

Rick Fox
     Jackson saw forward Rick Fox reading a book by Henry Miller -- either
Tropic of Cancer or Tropic of Capricorn. Then Fox saw Jackson reading Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi, a narrative of Miller's journey to the Greek isles just before the start of World War II. "I gave him Nothing but the Marvelous: The Wisdoms of Henry Miller, a collection of Miller's writings," Jackson says.

Mark Madsen
     Madsen, the rookie forward from Stanford, who is a Mormon, was given Zane Gray's
Riders of the Purple Sage by Jackson. The classic western takes a generally unfavorable view of Mormons, who abduct women in the 1912 novel. I wanted him to get a perspective on how the Mormons were perceived by people in the West years ago, [which is] different from now. He read the book -- and he was like, 'I didn't realize that the rest of the people looked upon Mormons that way.'"

What about for his Championship Bulls team?

Michael Jordan -- Fever: Twelve Stories by John Edgar Wideman
     'Fever' is a book of suffering. Its perspective is godlike (like Mike). When it is successful, its an almost unbearably anguished meditation on human nature in plague time, the power and sadness of the story are enormous, its vision triumphant.

Scottie Pippen -- The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes
     From North to South, light to dark, prosperous to dirt poor, all the stories are bound together and made powerful by the fact that they were all regular occurrences at that time in the United States. Within his simple stories, Hughes offered a barbed and trenchant analysis of white behavior and black behavior. Like his poems, the cruel accuracy of The Ways of White Folks is a reminder to Americans of some hard truths about the ridiculous and tragic ways skin color warps our lives.

Will Perdue -- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
     "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty" roam the country on a quest for self-knowledge and experience.

Steve Kerr -- All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
     In highly evocative prose that puts the reader firmly in the saddle, All the Pretty Horses follows the progress of a  laconic 16-year-old Texan, his pal Lacey, and a mysterious young sharpshooter as they ride across the border into Mexico in search of adventure.
   Was Phil's handout so inspiring that Steve Kerr, 3-point sharpshooter, decided to head to Texas?

Stacey King --
Beavis and Butthead: This Book Sucks
by Mike Judge
Find it in Out of Print, Used & Rare

B.J. Armstrong -- Zen Mind Beginner Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
     This is the book that gave Phil his greatest insights in the art of meditation.

John Paxson -- Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance  by Robert M. Pirsig
     Working on a motorcycle, working well, caring, is to become part of a process, to achieve an inner peace of mind.

Horace Grant -- Joshua: A Parable for Today by Joseph F. Girzone
     A quiet and simple man, Joshua appears to seek nothing for himself. He supports himself solely by carpentry and woodworking, and he charges very little for his services. Yet his work is exquisite. Like Ho underneath.

Craig Hodges -- The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
     A book about an athlete who turns inward to rediscover his competitive spirit.

Phil Jackson writes too:
     His latest, just-released work is
More than a Game, written in alternate takes with best friend, hoops buddy and established author Charley Rosen. Throughout the 1999–2000 season, the two got together frequently to tape conversations about Jackson’s latest challenge: teaching the rigorous "triangle [offense]" to an undisciplined Lakers team. Jackson documented the team’s game-by-game progress and his impressions of the state of the league. Rosen added novelistic impressions of the L.A. scene.

Compiled by K-Cebo Satashi  who has just finished Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior by Phil Jackson upon recommendation of C. Maroussi.

Sources: Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior © 1995 by Phil Jackson, Book it: Hard to get a read on Lakers, Rick Telander, Chi. Sun-Times, 3/21/01, Jackson wants Lakers to do it by the book, Rick Telander, Chi. Sun-Times, 3/22/01 & The Literary Lakers @ amazon.com. Some of the book descriptions are taken from barnesandnoble.com.

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