coach wooden and me-kareem abdul-jabbar

“you like brazilian music?”

ok so, was this commonly known? i’ve read a concentration of kareem abdul-jabbar‘s books lately, and this is the first one of the bunch that he hasn’t written with a cowriter. i suppose that makes sense, as it is the most personal. the inside jackets are proof of how prolific he’s been (lately, and ever), i feel like this one must have been released within months of writings on the wall. i learn something every time that i read one of his books, and this time, the most surprising thing was when he just tries to casually drop the detail “i had just started training with bruce lee“. the most basic google search yielded this fascinating (and at times homoerotic) clip with a curious soundtrack that i won’t ever be able to unsee.

long relationships always make me cry because they are proof that people can and do choose to stick around and work things out. intentional ones infinitely more so for the work and hurt (and triumph) of these reasons.

***i am feeling the urge to interject my continued feeling that vince carter should retire here because the jersey pictures have already surfaced, and i don’t remember which basketball book it was that i learned that the first step to trading a player is to leak it in the press and see how people receive it, but i did read that, and the response has been great. i’m sad that it didn’t happen by the deadline, i mean, bruno for vc should’ve been a good trade? but they (cleveland and the nba) must have known that veteran leadership and all of they symbolism would’ve pushed this current team towards at least the nba finals…so….***

i am interested in coach books because i am inspired by people who do right because it’s the right thing to do (and sports in general because it is a secular form of witness/worship). respecting, influencing and teaching people is thankless work that may never pay big dividends because it requires those people to also do the work. it may come years later, and in strange ways, as kareem accounts many times in this book (and his others).

here are the highlights as i have pulled them:

“Being good is the payoff, athletically and spiritually. That’s why he didn’t care for sports movies in which the underdog team or player learns the hard way that winning isn’t everything, but then they go on to win at the end.” (8)

bad news bears. it’s also the reason that i dislike the fact that awards for individual merit often outshine team play (i will never get over russell westbrook‘s kick in the face of an MVP award).

“His players would graduate with grades that would give them career opportunities beyond sports. He was worried about our long-term happiness, not our win-loss record.” (23)

no kidding.

“Both of us spoke fluent basketball, a language free of emotion. He loved that shot and saw in it possibilities I hadn’t imagined.” (106)

(sky hook).

“There’s very little creativity in racism.” (133)


“I tried to make the point that true patriotism is about acknowledging problems and, rather than running away from them, joining together to fix them.” (142)


“It was jazz as religion: everyone playing the same song, but adapting, improvising, harmonizing until we produced beautiful music together.” (217)

this was a really interesting point-no set plays, just lots of practice. i basically told some teenagers the same thing when i was working at the music school, “don’t be scurred, just be pre-purred”. i am almost certain that this is at least part of what’s been happening in san antonio all this time.

the other night, at the rather lacklustre celtics game, we honoured bill russell for black history month as he should be honoured and one of the images on the big screen was obama awarding him with the same award that he awarded kareem with to start this book, the same one that bush (jr) awarded to coach wooden and i got to thinking about whom, if anyone, this sitting guy will honour, since he doesn’t seem to have much regard for or interest in history or the future, and my i am truly sad that he doesn’t know the power of reading.


the ways of white folks-langston hughes

i read this because it was recommended to horace grant by phil jackson.


here are my questions:

1) did phil jackson read this?
2) when did phil jackson read this?
3) what the hell prompted him to recommend this to horace grant (in the same year that he recommended a beevis and butthead title to stacey augmon)?
4) did horace grant read this?
5) did these players have questions on the correlations between them and their books?
6) were the reading assignments handed out at the beginning or the end of the season?
7) again-what the natural hell?!

and of course, the most affecting story, father and son, is the last chapter.


sacred hoops-phil jackson

this was my holiday book, my homecoming book, probably partially what led to my dad asking me about “my favourite team, the chicago bulls” and having my grade 10 picture up because he doesn’t like my bangs in my grad picture. in a lot of ways, i did feel like i was back in the tenth grade, rooting for the bulls.

i rang in the new year, in a tall chair eating a delicious meal reading this, calmly waiting to come home. i don’t know how zen phil jackson is these days, running the new york knicks organization into the ground, but to be fair-he inherited a helluva job.

(and doing oakley like that?! come on, man-if he wasn’t traded for cartwright, you would’ve coached him instead of coaching against him all those years)

“Basketball happens at such a fast pace that your mind has a tendency to race at the same speed as your pounding heart. As the pressure builds, it’s easy to start thinking too much. But if you’re always trying to figure the game out, you won’t be able to respond creatively to what’s going on.” (50)

tell me about it. this playoffs is making me feel things that i never thought i would-like teams that i never cared about-i gotta hand it to the celtics, they looked really good against the bulls last night, though the t-shirt jerseys (and rondo’s blush on blush suit) maybe had something to do with it….and the rockets? i started out just rooting against westbrook-because can you really be mvp if your team is knocked out in the first round (again?) and the utah jazz? i didn’t know a single player, but hey-they’re looking pretty solid. i never thought i would be saying that in my lifetime. but i can’t figure basketball out, i can just love it.

“Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

and love it i do. like this wonder-full vacation here in the trill. although i’m mostly hiding out, guarding the hearth and taking care of the babies, i’ve found myself smiling over the simple things-like earlier on a terrace with an iced coffee writing letters and before that, air drying on the couch with the rottweiler and bojack horseman.

we never really change who we are, and here’s another example of phil’s long-standing feelings on young talented ballers:

“Everywhere he went, he was surrounded by a squadron of bodyguards and ‘a personal entourage,’ who formed a cocoon around him that was difficult to penetrate.” (19)

hmm. sounds like a posse to me.

game on, players.

the whore of akron-scott raab

“When I see footage of LeBron with the little boys and girls, I am both sickened and enraged. Idi Amin: I’m watching LeBron James, the last king of Cleveland, using children as props, as ornaments, as moral deodorant.
You want to stay, whore, stay. You want to go, whore, go. But spare us an hour of ESPN eunuchs lapping your scrotum while you void your bowels and bladder on the only fans who’ll ever love you like a member of the tribe.” (116)

and i thought i disliked lebron. shit. i almost felt bad for him after this irresistible vitriol packaged in black and shiny gold with its blasphemously sexy title from the shelf of my home home branch (parkdale). but not quite.

just like i felt bad for him in game 2 of the finals when they were whooped by golden state. but not quite, as i remembered how there wasn’t a single foul called on them in game five of our series.

if anything, i was embarrassed by the privilege of the author, and slightly hope-full that i could also write a bitter crazy book about basketball, but since i’m not an overweight wealthy dood, i may not have the same access. a woman can dream. but a woman will probably be heavily edited and put into a respectable pantsuit. (sigh).

“There were neither boundaries nor consequences, perfect training for a writer.” (14)

i mean, i was kind of the opposite-writing my way out of an environment (and city) of control and confinement. reading was my escape and empowerment, the most fruit-full coping mechanism…

regardless, i read this at the spa outside montreal on my bday weekend with my girls, so it was the perfect companion to naps in hammocks and saunas and steamrooms and waterfalls and the fire pit. it was definitely better to be high for it. shoutout to pax.

it feels like a good time to bring it back, because i keep trying to like lebron-but i’m so conflicted. for example-he did the right thing to complicate the “locker room talk” comment by asserting that there are men who do not talk about assaulting women, even though he had to qualify it by relating to his mother in law, daughter and wife (no mention of his moms, but maybe because she’s always allegedly trying to sleep with his teammates? at least that’s what the book says). but at least he said something. and i know he does a lot of good work, but just hearing him mic’d during games, or seeing him lounging around eating popcorn tonight, or in post-game interviews quoting jay-z lyrics, or crying about being kicked in the balls when he knew that that was his own fault…it’s just so difficult.

and not everyone can say it as razor sharply as this ideal man:

(swoon). impulse buying a second headliner ticket to see him was one of the best decisions i’ve made all year. i may need to start staying up late.

in conclusion:

“Hating is a full time job.” (189)

but so is loving y’all, so is loving.

eleven rings-phil jackson with phil delehanty

“The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”-Tom Waits

the other night, i decided to swap the word ratio of this blog to 90% mine and 12% the author of the book that i’m dealing with (yup-i studied math with funkmaster flex). i also realize that in this case, it means that the only quote that i’m sharing from coach’s book belongs to tom waits.

(i’ll let that brilliance marinate for a second).

i mean, this one is in every basketball team’s locker room and only slightly less pretentious than the one that he wrote when he was mad at kobe. i think i’m just irked by his paternalistic tone, though i admit that this idea may have been planted in my head by a sports writer.

nope. it comes through clear and loud in phil jackson‘s own voice-as evidenced by the fact that it transcends all the collaborating writers that he’s worked with. i did appreciate the insider information about the bulls’ dynasties, most notably scottie jarring karl malone by whispering into his ear “the mailman doesn’t deliver on sundays”, michael jordan punching steve kerr in the face (why come nobody asked him this season when his team beat that team’s record while he spent the first three months of the season in the hospital?!), how different the entire eastern conference would’ve been if oak had remained a bull and cartwright would’ve stayed a knick (who would mase have bullied ball with?! how would the bulls have gotten all those calls on ewing?!), and how his family has property in ontario so it’s not altogether crazy talk that he could coach the raptors. but i guess he’s still busy doing whatever in new york right now…(sorry, joakim noah-y’all are far from being a dynasty team-like “haven’t even played a single game together yet” far)

i do appreciate his insight on leadership and observing people without imposing your will-how attempting to control is as bad as ignoring altogether, and the true way to change folks is to inspire them to change themselves. i knew there was a reason i needed to roll over this today-some deep breaths have definitely been necessary lately.

but my girls are getting my spa day together in mtl, my goddess understands that i need her to be out before i get on the bus, i exchanged some wearable energy with my fellow ’79 virgo today, and i found church in cleaning the top of my refrigerator today. i must give thanks once again for the soft scrubber recipe that has changed my whole cleaning game (baking soda, castille soap, and essential oils-today’s mix was rosemary, cinnamon and lemongrass)

i set my alarm for yoga, and gave myself the gift of sleeping in on my day off instead. frantic is not an energy that needs to be brought to/from yoga, so i will go another week without iyengar. i found another publicly playable piano at the daniels’ spectrum when i dropped in to hug lovelies at the FU book launch.

my day was cleaning, clearing, circle card reading, incense, colouring, connecting and debuting my indigo-written “missing…” shirt for all the disappeared murdered forgotten neglected sisters.

and now i’m here-because it’s writing sunday.

i have too much compost in my freezer, but i haven’t worked out the right time to put it out, as i have to crawl over all these cars parked to go to the ex, despite the passing of the new bylaw. (sigh). at least i’ll be missing the blasted air show this year because i’ll be vaping with my girls at the spa on the lake instead of blocking this nonsense (people move here to escape war and here we are fully reproducing it for what reason?) and forgetting until i’m in my shower (which is just an aluminum sound tunnel) thinking that it’s truly the end.

i’ve recommitted to listening to all the musics that i haven’t gotten around to (a sister project to reading all the books in my house and on my holds list) and have made the following lineup changes:

-i donated sikh knowledge’s nu high and the a tribe called quest anthology to the library
-i kept and sanctified home to raekwon’s only built for cuban linx, mos def’s black on both sides, the luniz’ lunitk muzik, and tokyo dawn’s the boogie-volume three ( shoutout to amalia for touching all of these by sending me her feature and giving me the tip on the curbside sunday pickups)

i don’t like greatest hits albums-i feel like they’re cheating somehow. well, they are. basically, if your next project is slated to be a greatest hits album or a christmas album, it’s the beginning of the end of your career, and that’s how those albums come across. you’re pulling the songs out of their context and track listing on an album-and even though the other tracks may not have been hits-they made up that artist and that time and that’s something.

on a related note-i am loving the rap yearbook and its arts and words.

and life. life is pretty freakin’ great, even though tensions are rolling into a giant tumbleweed at work, i’m great-full for my time outside of work that allow me to recharge and serve to remind me that there is so much more out there, but it does sustain and inspire me to go out there and grab it.

focus is every thing.

no focus/no love
know focus/know love

i fully jacked that from a church billboard earlier and just now figured out the appropriate substitutions.


hashtag, mood.

“disculpa si te ofendo, pero es que soy honesto”

so, it happened. for the first time in 6.5 years, i have exceeded my 50 checkout maximum at the library. i reacted the same way that i do whenever tells me “no”-in complete and stunned surprise. i took my “strange alert” to my librarian and she informed me of this fact. and then she overrode it because she’s a g.

i know i’ve been checking out cds with reckless abandon since my disc drive on my laptop has been acting like it’s too good to show me movies, but i had to actually look through my checkout list to confirm that it’s the graphic novels and the drawing books that put me over the edge.

part of my mounting cd pile was the best of bachata, and this song has been on loop. i honestly cannot place why it’s so familiar to me, and it’s not the frankie j version, so it could be some obscure moment in a movie, or the ny undercover soundtrack, or an interlude on one of the angie martinez albums (yup, i owned those).

regardless-let’s talk about staying power for a minute-wow.

and also, this is the opposite of how i feel about the raptors-i’ve got nothing but love for this team that has made it to the conference finals for the first time in 15 years and has not yet played a single game at the best that we’ve seen the whole regular season.

i’m content with the climb. i also know that it’s not going to be a cake walk against the cavs, but i still maintain that we’ve got the better team because we do not have a superstar, and i feel like our guys actually support each other through their respective slumps.

(ok, i’m a bit obsessed, too).

and this emotional roller coaster in ridiculous weather (did i really get hail in my ear on may 15th?!) has been railing so hard that i haven’t yet had a chance to process that the spurs are out, and for the second year in a row-the warriors have not had to play them in the playoffs. yea…that’s just a coincidence. sure.

unguarded-lenny wilkens with terry pluto (part too)

“I’m proud of the fact that when I came to new jobs in Cleveland, Atlanta and Seattle (both times), my teams either set or tied franchise records for the most victories in a season. That’s the indication that the team improved while I was there, which is the real job of any coach.” (292)

“The teams that became NBA dynasties all had at least one great player who was the constant, who set the tone, demanded respect from the other players, and was willing to serve as a policeman in the dressing room. In Boston, the great player was Bill Russell. Later, it was Larry Bird. In Los Angeles, it was Magic Johnson. In Chicago, Michael Jordan. When Detroit won their back-to-back titles, the great player was Isiah Thomas.
Those guys were obsessed with winning. To them, winning meant more than money, more than fame, more than life itself. They not only drove themselves, they powered the entire team. They were like Superman, and their teammates knew they had to grab on to that cape or they’d be left behind.
We didn’t have that player. When I took over the Sonics, they’d never had a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a scoring champion, or a Coach of the Year. When we won the title, the whole was far greater than the collection of the parts. In our title season, we had no one in the top ten in scoring…..We were a true share-the-ball, share-the-wealth team.” (187)

“As a player, I was a point guard, so I viewed the game not just from my perspective, but for what was best for the whole team. The coach does the same thing. It also never hurts to have some immediate success. Players are far more willing to sacrifice, to come off the bench, when they look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game and see that it paid off with a victory.” (168)

“I’ve had a lot of good players in my career, and that’s why I’ve won as many games as I have. But to last as many years as I have in the NBA and to win as many games as I have without players named Russell, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Chamberlain, or Abdul-Jabbar is something that makes me very proud.” (292)

thank you. i mean, sports are all about hurdles, and most teams don’t really have a chance. so why not make the most of it if you’re going to watch and dream bigger? allow ourselves to be inspired by the impossible, instead of stinking up the joint with “reality”? and that unicorn of a team that wins because it’s an actual team-i feel like we’ve been going that way as of late, and my fingers crossed for the most exciting season yet.