'Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior' is the subtitle of Phil Jackson's journey of self-discovery, a trip which was built on a combination of Christianity and native American philosophy, tempered by an addition of Zen Buddhism.
While such a combination might seem an odd distraction for a NBA coach, Jackson takes us along for the ride through his transformation from hard-working player to six-time Champion at the helm of the Chicago Bulls. At times inspirational, occasionally bewildering, 'Sacred Hoops' nonetheless explains much of the mystery behind one man's enigma and how it won the respect of basketball's finest exponent.
We discover that creating the chemistry which took the Bulls from under-achievers to the status of all-time greats came about through careful guidance from the Zen Master who applied his life principles to basketball and came out on top as a result.
"During the 15 or 30 seconds they have to grab a drink and towel off, I encourage them to picture themselves some place where they feel secure," explains Jackson of his time-out plan. "The exercise helps players reduce their anxiety and focus attention on what they need to do.."
At times, the writers stray into over-detail but overall, they provide a fascinating insight into someone who is more than just a coach. his humanity laid bare as he strives to create a single-minded yet vulnerable entity.
Although the book ends while Jackson gets ready to embark on a final stretch with the Bulls, it helps us to comprehend the endeavours he has accomplished since taking over at the LA Lakers, the psychological tests set for his players as they seek to maximise their potential.
There is much inside the pages which can be applied outside of sport, encouraging the reader to question his or her daily mantra. Winning at all costs is not Jackson's style but winning is certainly a consequence which flows out of his preaching - of team work beyond individual gain. "We" not "me", as he describes.
Not the typical sports book but then, the author is not the average sportsman either.