Monday, April 7, 2008


Phil Jackson is an outstanding basketball coach. 9 NBA titles are proof of this, but he is also a great writer about the sport. I just finished The Last Season. A team in search of its soul and enjoyed it immensely. Jackson is considered a bit of a scruffy revolutionary in the basketball world because he can be unconventional, he practices Buddhism, leads his team in meditation, splices scenes from movies into his game review tapes and has a strong connection with Native American beliefs.
The book deals with the 2003-04 season and the Lakers attempts to win their fourth title in five years. It is fun following the ups and downs of the team on the court as well as the classing ego's of the two best players on the team, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The book also shows what a coach has to go through to try and get a team to play as one, tactician, psychologist, father figure, disciplinarian and personnel manager.

The book is also interesting in its comments about umpiring, and how subjective it is. In the NBA TV ratings decide many things so stars are allowed to get away with more than rookies. So when an umpire calls a nothing foul for the second time in a quarter on a star then the umpire is sending a message to the team, back off. If a player insults an umpire in a previous match, then other umpires in subsequent matches will even the score. And on it goes.

Would the Lakers make it to the finals, would they win? History records that they lost in the Finals to the Detroit Pistons but it was a hell of a ride.

If you like basketball and want to know about what goes on behind the scenes then this is a great read. Highly recommended.