Phil Jackson revealed something about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen that you shouldn’t feel all that surprised by – they’re not bookish people.
Phil Jackson is known as the Zen Master because of his hands-off, yet instructive approach while handling his players. He’d give them an earful when they deserved it, but Jackson knew how to keep them mentally sharp.
He developed bonds with all of his players, like all great coaches do. In doing so, he’d often learn a lot about his players. He’d use various motivational and psychological tactics to keep his players engaged. One of those was to periodically gift them a book or two, and then discuss it in depth.
Phil Jackson describes how Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were averse to reading
Jackson quickly learned that books weren’t of much use if you wanted to get to Michael Jordan. Or Scottie Pippen, for that matter. In his personal notes of the 1997-98 season, this is how he describes his thinking process while selecting books to gift:
“With the West Coast trip at hand, I went to the bookstore to shop for books to give to each player, coach and, of course, [trainer] Chip [Schaefer].”
“I gave the new players copies of the book I wrote a couple years ago, Sacred Hoops, so they could get a feel for my thinking, background and the principles of the triangle offense. For the vets, I got books by authors I had bought for them before. Harp got another Walter Mosley mystery.”
“Michael and Scottie were easy, because they don’t read. It didn’t matter what I bought them. Kerr and Chip need stimulating stuff because they’re both big readers.”
Jackson also displayed the clear lack of camaraderie between himself and Krause in the same story.
“But what should I do about Krause? He doesn’t have a lot of interests except sports experts and fishing. I considered Any Idiot Can Manage and How to Be an Enlightened Team Builder but thought that would be a slap in the face.”
“I turned down an aisle, and (his wife) June said, “Don’t get him a book. The Krauses let us know how they feel last Christmas when they didn’t get us anything.”