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.

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.


the last season (part too-chicago)-phil jackson

“In fact, in many ways, I have more in common with reporters than with my own players. We maintain an ongoing dialogue about subjects other than basketball. But in Los Angeles, unlike Chicago, their agenda is different, more dangerous. In Chicago, the vibe I received from the press was one of adoration for Michael, for the team, everyone reveling in the success we generated for a franchise that until this new era arrived, never hung a championship banner from its rafters. In LA, which has fourteen banners, reporters want to know: what can I write that advances the drama for one more day?” (33-34)

“Giving goals is not a practice I followed with the Bulls, who were sufficiently self-motivated from Michael down to the twelfth man, watching countless games on television to scout their opponents. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I sensed that this team needed a measurable target to advance its cause. The players weren’t nearly as driven.” (89)

“In Chicago sometimes we meditated three times a week. There were eight or nine guys who benefited from the sessions. Here on this squad, Fox and Fish are the only two, I suspect, who will profit. The rest will walk out and never approach this space again. What I am trying to instill in them is simply too far removed from their more practical, more materialistic, commonsense world. They think we’re wasting our time, at best tolerating the intrusion.” (149)

“There have been some notable exceptions. In 1998, before the playoffs began, I asked the players to contribute a poem or a section of prose related to their experiences together, which we then burned. ‘I couldn’t do it without you, Michael,’ Scottie said. Michael cried.” (23)

was that a coincidence that that quote came on page 23 of the book? i think not. also-it’s telling that it’s scottie saying that to michael, and not michael saying it to scottie-i’m just sayin’.

and i know that men take a lot longer to deal with things and move on (if they ever do) than women, but at a certain point, it’s fucking tired-you don’t coach in chicago anymore, the constant comparison to chicago makes you sound old and bitter, and is a reminder that no, they didn’t want you anymore. so maybe you should just ease up? but i guess if you’ve never done anything else, you can’t talk about anything else. so let that be a lesson-kids-go learn some shit and be interested so that you may be interesting.

“In the league’s opinion, the officials are the sacred cows. In my opinion, the league has a growing problem, which endangers the game’s credibility.” (126)

“All I ask for, and I’m far from alone, is consistency, for the refs to call it the same way at both ends.” (67)

i will end with a point that i do agree with him on-the officials and how they do an absolute shit job when they’re bad. i suppose it’s like playing goalie or being a good soundtrack-it must be hard to have to fade into oblivion, but hey-it’s your job not to be noticed. it is a choice that you made, so either do it well, or don’t do it.

i’ve been wondering if underhanded free throws were allowed, and he confirmed that they are (he suggested them to shaq, as i would have) but cats are just too ashamed to shoot them-fools! a point is a point! he also hipped me to the cba rule that nobody could foul out, just after the 6th foul the other team would get two shots as well as possession of the ball. i concur that this would be a great improvement to the game.

the last season (part won)-los angeles-phil jackson

“The answer is because he can’t possibly imagine anyone ever voluntarily leaving his Los Angeles Lakers, the number-one franchise on the planet. It reminds me of a story about a guy who can’t understand why his girlfriend would ever break up with him.” (262)

“Teamwork is a nebulous thing. It is as ephemeral as love, disappearing at the latest insult.” (1)

“Ultimately though, I don’t believe we developed enough trust between us to win a championship.” (259)

no, i suppose not that year-but here’s the thing about writing a book like this, and subtitling it a team in search of its soul, nothing is forever in love and basketball-not even for phil jackson.

i believe this was at a time when basketball was having trouble drumming up viewers, but was this whole thing a publicity stunt? because how would a team that had been so dissed by this man even offer him the job as head coach again? how could he go in on these players and have them still mesmerized by his fucking triangle? and most importantly, if he hated it so much, why did he go back? for all of his zen-propagation, i have to wonder how much money motivates this man…i mean look at his “long game” in new york right now.

“His decision to delay toe surgery until last September was one of the reasons we didn’t win another championship.” (18)

yikes. and this is about shaq-the one he likes.

kobe, he does not. he goes on and on about how he’s an ungrateful baby, how he’s worried about how the rape trail is affecting him and the team, and how he’s seen as the golden boy so he feels like he’s playing one-on-one every night against the spawn of jellybean. he even goes so far as to suggest that kobe should’ve been traded for jason kidd and shawn marion-let’s imagine the lakers, and the league for a minute if that would’ve happened…

“The fact that the alleged incident took place in Colorado heightened my level of concern. Here was one state in the Union in which the word ‘no’ definitely meant no.” (11)

just for the record, which are the ones where “no” means, uh-maybe?

to address the fact that kobe didn’t like him insinuating that he sabotaged games, he said, The point was well taken, and one I will bring up when the right moment comes this fall.” (13)

to me, this sounds exactly like when dennis rodman was all crying up on oprah‘s couch claiming that he would apologize to scottie pippen for breaking his nose in front of the whole world when they won a championship together-that shit never happened either.

this book gives first-hand insight into phil jackson’s attitude about players, and his paternalistic borderline overseer’s attitude on how to deal with “his charges”. he tells of splicing clips from the three stooges into his game videos to keep their attention and to teach them the errors of their ways. (sigh).

“But taking money out of their pockets, I’ve always believed, is not the most effective way to keep players in line. Far more threatening is the loss of my approval. Despite their tremendous talent, they are still, by and large, young adults, seeking validation from an authority figure, and there is no greater authority figure on a team than the coach. Needless to say, in today’s warped, self-indulgent climate, too many players couldn’t care less about appeasing the coach. So how do I combat these forces? Well, one way is to take away playing time. The loss of playing time means the loss of precious stats, and most threatening, perhaps, the loss of potential income. Being ostracized from the group also brings shame and embarrassment.” (73-4)

this is kind of like hearing ceos speak on how they built their success on sapping the talents of people who don’t know how to properly use them and claim how they accomplished everything against all odds-everyone’s against them-the players, the refs, the management. it’s a bit disheartening, like the success stories that are supposed to inspire you but just reinforce the idea that in order to get ahead, you have to be a complete asshole.

coming up tomorrow-“i’ve got a huge chip on my shoulder about no longer coaching in chicago”.

after artest-the nba and the assault on blackness-david j.leonard

“A few years with Mike Kryzwezski, Bob Knight, or any number of white NCAA coaches was seen as the answer to the influx of the hip-hop generation player. ‘The coach is similar to the White male father figure, whereas Black male athletes are like children, under the father’s control and subject to his rule,’ writes Abby Ferber. ‘It is only when they accept and lay this role that they are fully embraced and accepted as seen as non-threatening. Their bodies can be admired as long as they are perceived as controlled by White males. These athletes are then defined as the ‘good blacks’ (2007, p.20).” (92)

“The effort to exclude under-20 ballers from the NBA, while also motivated by owners not wanting to pay first-round dollars to players who might take years to develop and college programs wanting to profit from the unpaid labor of America’s top ballers, reflects a desire to push America’s best players into attending college so they can join the league having been already ‘seasoned’ and ‘domesticated’.” (102)

“According to Ian O’Connor, David Stern ‘wanted an age requirement to turn back the high school tide, and yet he found himself marketing high school players to his paying public. LeBron. T-Mac. Kobe. KG. In one breath, Stern celebrated their contributions to his game. In the next, he pledged his allegiance to the cause of stopping future LeBrons, T-Macs, Kobes and KGs from showing up in his league before age 20” (O’Connor 2005a, p.110).” (62)

i can’t lie. i had to go back into the archives and post this one before i blogged the phil jackson book about the “kobe how my ass taste” lakers-coincidentally the topic of this week’s edition of the nba hangtime podcast. i also must admit that this one coloured my reading of that one, and phil came through and in his own words confirmed his feelings about his role as coach, and the condescending attitude he has towards his players.

this period of basketball time is my “lost years”, when i was off in montrill living life and running after musicians and thangs, but i am interested in everything that happened-from the brawl to the dress code to the criminalization of the players-the author’s musing is true-in no other sport does fighting qualify you as a criminal-in real life. think of all the violence and concussions in hockey and football-but players get absolved off the ice/field-even the ones that are actually murderers. but these doods who barely know how to fight (remember when van gundy won that fight?) get brushed off as a bunch of thugs and spoiled brats? come on-like any other sports player doesn’t make millions of dollars? imagine if ball players were like the cast of friends-demanding to be paid per episode? now imagine if teachers were. the inequality of wealth is a problem, but let’s not blow it out of proportion, or focus too narrowly.

“According to the media discourse, while a problem in itself, the Palace Brawl also signified a larger issue: the growing power and influence of the hip-hop generation as represented by a group of millionaire, ghetto-raised, gangsta ballers, who not only brought the crossover, trash-talking and high-flying dunks into the league, but also ego, excess and violence. They threatened the financial viability of the league, along with the connections between fan and player. It demonstrated that hip-hop as cultural style, as swagger, as signifier of coolness, wasn’t compatible with all NBA fans. The elusive goal of racial transcendence would be impossible should the relationship with hip-hop continue because of the imagined links between hip-hop and blackness. Blackness was always just beneath the surface, a powder-keg waiting to explode the NBA’s bubble of racial neutrality. With the Palace Brawl, Artest popped the bubble; with his body lying on the scorer’s table or his (and others) fighting in the stands, blackness was in full view, requiring efforts to control and manage their racialized bodies.” (26)

“In response to falling ratings, dissipating corporate support, a deluge of publication relation’s nightmares, and unrelenting criticism from much of the media, the NBA hired Matthew Dowd, a Texas strategist who had previously worked with George W. Bush on his reelection campaign. Having successfully helped Bush find immense support within Middle America, Dowd was brought in ‘to help’ Stern ‘figure out how to bring the good ‘ol white folks back to the stands’ (Abramson 2005).” (129)

“What is striking about the discourse surrounding the player responses, beyond the erasure of their heterogeneity, is the way in which the media used players’ references to race and racism as justification for a dress code.” (133)

“Throughout the media discourse, commentators minimized, dismissed and ridiculed critics (particularly players) for inserting race where it did not belong. In citing African American support for the dress code, the universal nature of the dress code, and the fact that the code was designed to ‘help’ black players, the discourse invoked dominant rhetorical devices to deny the significance of race.” (136)

“The demonization of Allen Iverson, Stephen Jackson, and Marcus Camby as ungrateful, out-of-control hip-hop ballers (as angry and black and therefore unable to function as the desired racially transcendent players)-and the construction of David Stern as their benevolent white father working tirelessly to protect their interests demonstrate the dialectics between the dress code and race.” (140)

i mean-did more people watch carmelo’s “stop snitching” video than the one his wife posted to show that she wasn’t cheating with maino? i don’t think so. were more people focused on the cornrows and baggy jeans of yore than his ridiculous green puss-in-boots hat on all-star weekend? is david stern to blame for andrew wiggins being drafted in his granny’s suit? or joakim noah‘s ridiculous seersucker sideshow bob getup?