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The Religious Affiliation of Pro-Basketball Coach
From: Anna Argasinski, "Buddhist Stars: Eastern Thought Popular Among Many Of Hollywood's Brightest" on The College of New Jersey website (URL: http://unbound.intrasun.tcnj.edu/archives/lifestyle/old/buddha.html; viewed 1 July 2005):
In Asian countries, where Buddhism is much more prevalent, the philosophy is not so much a religion of the masses. It is kept alive by a monastic elite, who spread their influence by teaching and example. So, too, in America, with the difference that the equivalent class here consists of movie stars and rock musicians, who can spread their message through movies and television.
...perhaps the most successful example of Buddhist philosophy at work can be found in the story of Chicago Bulls Coach Phil Jackson. Jackson, who has led the Bulls to numerous NBA titles and recently became the first coach to lead his team to 70 wins in one season, will surely be named as one of the most successful coaches in history. The Bulls most prominent players Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen and Dennis Rodman, as well as an odd assortment of projects and castoffs, are managed through Jackson's new age philosophy. Using a mixture of American Indian philosophy and Zen Buddhism, Coach Phil Jackson has managed to keep the disparate elements of the team playing in harmony.
His approach emphasizes awareness, compassion and selfless team play to achieve victory. Jackson believes that the essence of teamwork is interconnectedness and selflessness in action. One of the most important characteristics of a leader, he concedes, is to listen without making judgments. In order to create a true team and build an acceptable level of trust, one must have intimacy and an open forum where every member can fully express his thoughts and feelings. Jackson uses this concept of mindfulness to assist his players in paying exact attention to what is happening on the court moment by moment. Jackson encourages his players to practice Buddhist philosophy off the court as well. He teaches players meditation so they can relax more fully. Meditation allows his players to make the correct decisions during extremely tense and chaotic times on the basketball court, Jackson contends.