Authors: Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
Phil Jackson is the most successful coach in the history of American professional team sports. Between Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers, his basketball teams won 11 NBA championships. Some have belittled Jackson's own contributions to those star-laden squads. But anyone who follows sports for any length of time knows that it takes more than assembling talent to win titles. Those who worked with him and played for him admire his ability to manage egos and convince superstars to buy into a team concept.
Eleven Rings got a lot of press when it came out in 2013 as a different kind of sports book. After all, Jackson was a different kind of coach, his style of leadership derived from his own, broad-ranging spiritual explorations, particularly Zen Buddhism. He teaches his players meditation. His famed Triangle Offense is designed to allow creativity rather than depending on rigid set plays. He believes that a team's success or failure ultimately depends on players' relationships with one another, and also their coaches. Eleven Rings documents all of this and as a teacher, I find Jackson's insights valuable.
But the book is still mostly basketball. I don't know if one would enjoy the book much if one didn't like basketball. I personally love the game but I don't follow the NBA, preferring the college game. Interestingly, Jackson sees the same problem with the league that I do. Since the Magic-Bird-Jordan days of the '80s, the NBA has valued individual players over teams and marketed itself accordingly. As a result, the very rules of the game have evolved to spotlight the superstars and teams employ their tactics in order to take full advantage. It's been years since I followed the league closely, really not since the mid '90s. But I know the players well enough to enjoy a glimpse into their world. I don't know if a non-fan would care.
Thanks for the recommendation, Suze, wherever you are!