Phil Jackson will always have a place among the greatest in Lakers lore. After leading the team to five titles in the 2000s. While Jackson made a name for himself as coach of Michael Jordan and the dynasty Bulls teams, his time in LA was far more publicized and celebrated.
Recently, as he promoted quite masterfully, Jackson released his autobiography entitled Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.
As someone who grew up watching the Lakers of those early 2000s Lakers, this book was one that I knew I’d be picking up immediately. And, unsurprisingly, once I started reading the book, I couldn’t put it down.
For all basketball fans, this is an absolute must-read book.
Jackson has always been a person I have had an interest in for a long time. However, he has always been someone that kept to himself and liked to stay out of the public eye. Fortunately for myself and millions of other fans, he published this book.
Jackson first talks about his time spent as a player with the New York Knicks, breaking down what made those teams great and why they were successful. He goes on to talk about his personal struggles and how he become interested Buddhism and became the “Zen Master.”
But the really interesting parts come as he talks about his times in Chicago and Los Angeles. Jackson gives very detailed and personal accounts of each of the teams he coached. Impressively, he pin points exact games and even plays that made or broke his team each season.
For Lakers fans, he also talks extensively about the relationship between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Jackson talks about the reasoning in why he did or didn’t step in between the two feuding stars and talks of his eventually inability and refusal to coach Bryant anymore, leading to the end of his initial tenure as Lakers coach.
The 11-time champion then talks about Kobe’s transformation from selfish and reluctant youngster to mature and vocal leader. He talks about the lost years where he and Kobe struggled to even make the playoffs while Kobe was scoring by the boatload. Jackson even says that, at times, he encouraged Kobe to shoot based on the fact the Lakers had no other scoring options.
Jackson ends the book with his final season as Lakers head coach. He reveals that he had been battling cancer late in his final season, which he revealed to his team during the playoffs, hoping for an emotional spark. Instead, what he got was the opposite as the news only worsened the Lakers attitudes and led to their dismal performance against the Mavericks in 2011.
Bottom line, if you consider yourself a Lakers fan, this book has to top your list, especially considering Jackson has been Lakers coach for the better part of the last 13 years.
Do yourself a favor and go buy Eleven Rings. You can thank me later.