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“He had a Tai Chi master come to practice once”: Kobe Bryant reveals the weirdest thing Phil Jackson made him do during practice

Arjun Julka

"He had a Tai Chi master come to practice once": Kobe Bryant reveals the weirdest thing Phil Jackson made him do during practice

Veteran coach Phil Jackson had Kobe Bryant pissed and confused with a Tai Chi master present at a basketball practice session.

One of the greatest basketball minds, Phil Jackson, holds the record for the most no. of NBA championships as head coach, with eleven rings. A top-15 coach of all-time, Phil is the architect behind two of the most successful dynasties in the Bulls and Lakers.

The Hall of Famer knew what it took to win on the grandest stage of them all, having coached the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. It’s no secret that Phil was a big believer in spirituality, popularly called Zen Master.

Mr. Eleven Rings not only trained his players on the physical aspects of the game but also prepped them mentally for pressure situations. However, many felt Phil went overboard at times, one of them being none other than the Black Mamba.

Also read: “Superteam failures make us appreciate Phil Jackson more”: NBA Reddit pays its respect to former Bulls, Lakers coach for keeping it together while coaching the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant

One such occasion was when Phil invited a Tai Chi master for a session, having Kobe heated, who had laced up for a grueling session of ball.

(For those who don’t know, Tai Chi is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for defense training, health benefits, and meditation.)

Kobe Bryant would eventually realize the positive influence of Phil Jackson’s school of spirituality.

When it came to work ethic and the relentless drive to succeed, there were not many who matched the level of Kobe Bryant. The five-time champion and two-time Finals MVP was the pioneer of the Mamba Mentality. The Hall of Famer never refused to learn at any stage of his career.

While Kobe’s life lessons on practice never seize to inspire, the former Lakers guard didn’t take to spiritual well-being on the go, which is something he learned playing eleven years under Coach Phil. Kobe would once narrate how the presence of a Tai Chi master at a practice session pissed him off.

He had a Tai Chi master come to practice once. I walked out there, and I saw a Tai Chi master standing on center court and tell us to take our shoes off and when I took them off, I was pissed. I was ready to play basketball and he’s standing right up there and said everybody close their eyes and do stuff like monk gazing at the moon and letting the fingertips touch and all the spirituality behind that, and I’m peaking around and thought is everyone doing this sh*t? What the hell is going on? And then big a** Phil was there doing it himself and I’m like damn.

(3:10 mark)

Nonetheless, Kobe revealed he eventually bought into Phil’s methods of meditation, adding how it helped his team never get rattled during tense situations and stay calm.

Also read: “Phil Jackson was all about the scale”: Why Kobe Bryant held the Zen Master in such high regard despite Phil repeatedly falling out with the Black Mamba

Well, one couldn’t help but agree with Phil’s spiritual approach, having coexisted a Dennis Rodman with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, also managing the huge egos of Shaq-Kobe on the Lakers.

About the author

Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka


Arjun Julka is a NBA author at The SportsRush. Basketball isn’t just a sport for this 26-year-old, who hails from Mumbai. He began watching the sport after stumbling upon a court in his society, helping him identify an undiscovered passion for the game of hoops. Now an ardent fan, Arjun supports Stephen Curry and the Warriors but also enjoys watching Giannis Antetokounmpo own the paint. When it comes to the GOAT debate, the TSR author feels LeBron James is yet to receive a lot of his due but cannot deny marveling at Michael Jordan’s resume.

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