Phil Jackson Quotes

Sprinkled with a mix of sarcasm and philosophy, the best Phil Jackson quotes give insights to the mind of an NBA coach who won more NBA championships than any other coach in the league's history. Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls to six championships during their heyday in the 1990s and formed another dynasty with the Los Angeles Lakers when he brought that franchise five more titles a decade later before retiring after the 2011 season. Jackson used philosophy drawn from eastern religions like Buddhism to motivate players and build championship teams. These quotes offer a sampling of that philosophy:

  1. "I thrive on challenges and there is no more imposing challenge for someone in my profession than winning an NBA title." Jackson wrote this gem in his book "The Last Season" which he released between stints as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Some critics argued that Jackson only won because he had superstars like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O' Neal and Kobe Bryant to work with. The fact remains that Jackson found ways to win with different teams and different stars on a consistent basis—a rarity in modern professional sports.
  2. "My philosophy is that you don't motivate players with speeches, you have motivated players that you draft." Jackson had a famous quirk for giving players a book to read that would open their mind and help them understand something about themselves. But his approach differed greatly from the coach who gets in players' faces. Eventually, all players came around to doing things Jackson's way—even really stubborn ones like Bryant.
  3. "I probably would have no capability of absorbing a 60-defeat season as a coach. It would be a foreign experience." Rebuilding projects were not a situation Jackson wanted to tackle. At certain points in his career when the Bulls and the Lakers faced rebuilding, Jackson took a sabbatical from coaching rather than endure coaching a lottery-bound team. His insistence on coaching only teams built to contend for championships sparked much criticism in his career.
  4. "Basketball is a sport that involves the subtle interweaving of players at full speed to the point where they are thinking and moving as one." The triangle offense taught by Jackson emphasized ball movement and possession before firing off a shot. He was not above letting stars like Jordan or Bryant putting up tons of shots to get their points, but he urged them to do it within a framework of teamwork.
  5. "Your problems never cease. They just change." Throughout his career, Jackson found a way to adapt to most eclectic personalities and mold them into fully functioning members of championship teams. During his tenure, he calmed Dennis Rodman's bad boy antics enough to help him contribute to three championship teams in Chicago. Jackson also helped Ron Artest rehabilitate his image as a malcontent through his contributions in the Lakers most recent NBA title run.
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