Phil Jackson Gave Knicks Players a Michael Jordan Book to Read

He may no longer prowl NBA sidelines, but Phil Jackson has stuck with some familiar motivational tactics from his coaching days.

The Zen Master gave each New York Knick a reading assignment last season—players for the 17-65 squad received a copy of famed Chicago Bulls writer Sam Smith’s latest oeuvre on Michael Jordan, “There Is No Next”.

Head coach Derek Fisher has also adopted his boss’s methods heading into the 2015-16 campaign.

Per the WSJ:

Along with packs of ice, Gatorade bottles and the occasional gym bag, it’s not uncommon for NBA players to be seen toting personal items out of practice sessions. Still, it was little unusual to see Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks’ 20-year-old Latvian rookie, clutching a bright orange book under his arm as he exited the gym after a summer-league practice a few weeks ago. […] “Coach [Derek] Fisher gave it to me. It’s called ‘The Positive Dog.’ Took me maybe three days to finish, and was simple to understand—explained in a childish way,” Porzingis said of the Jon Gordon title, which uses a pair of talking dogs to illustrate the importance of a positive outlook on life.


Besides giving “The Positive Dog” to Porzingis, he gave “Developing the Leader Within You,” by John C. Maxwell, to first-round pick Jerian Grant and Gordon’s “Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else” to Cleanthony Early, the team’s top selection in the 2014 draft. […] “It was helpful to read it,” said Early, who read “Training Camp” last season while recovering from a procedure on his right knee. “There was a whole part of the book that spoke to my situation, basically a way of telling me to keep my head up and find ways to mentally improve while I was injured.”


“No, I don’t expect the players to read with the same interest [as in years past],” said Jackson, whose reading lists in L.A. and Chicago looked a little more literary than Fisher’s: Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart,” Zane Gray’s “Riders of the Purple Sage,” Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha,” to name a few. […] Last year, Jackson gave each of the Knicks a copy of “There Is No Next,” Sam Smith’s latest read on Michael Jordan’s legacy. He said he wanted the players, especially Carmelo Anthony, to grasp the level of intensity needed to be a champion.