Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior
Author: Phil Jackson
I’m not a loyal fan of the NBA and I haven’t followed the games much in recent years. But I did watch a lot of live games 20 years ago when I was in secondary school. Local basketball commentators used to dub NBA stars creative nicknames, like the “Mailman” (Karl Malone) and “Laser Gun” (Jeff Hornacek), which certainly make up a collective memory of my generation.
Michael Jordan’s prominence was the real reason I followed the NBA back in those days. It’s like what the sports pundit Peter Wong said, “Watching Jordan playing games is a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience”. The pure elegance of this athletic superstar is still unmatched, not even by Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Behind the scenes, Jordan’s glory days had a lot to do with the legendary coach Phil Jackson.
Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior was written by Coach Jackson in 1995 and reprinted in 2006. After many years, Taiwan issued a new Chinese translation version in 2017, which showed how much the publisher recognized its value even today. In 1995, Coach Jackson had already led the Chicago Bulls to three consecutive championships, but the team then lost in the playoffs the following two seasons. It may be surprising that he led the Bulls to their second championship three-peat after the release of this book.
Coach Jackson’s well-known passion for Zen has garnered him the nickname – “Zen Master”. In Sacred Hoops, he detailed how he infused Zen philosophy into team management. Some people would say that a team with Jordan in it wins whoever the coach is. That’s why Coach Jackson described at length in this book about how to avoid over-relying on Jordan. After all, basketball is a team sport and no one-man team can win a championship.
In this book, you’ll see how Jackson – a coach with an exceptionally high win rate – coached his team in unique ways, such as choosing certain books for his players and holding group discussions on moral issues. The fly in the ointment is that this book adopted the Taiwanese translation of players’ names, which may sound a bit unfamiliar to Hong Kong readers.