By Kent Larsen
Phil Jackson's 'Education' for Madsen
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson loves
books, and has made a habit of giving his players books once or twice a
year, both to let them know that he thinks about them as people, and,
hopefully, to give them a different perspective on life. His first gift to
Laker's rookie Mark Madsen recognized Madsen's membership in the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while trying to give Madsen a different
"Mark Madsen, our rookie forward from Stanford, is a Mormon," Jackson says.
"So I gave him Zane Gray's "Riders of the Purple Sage." I wanted him to get
a perspective on how the Mormons were perceived by people in the West years
ago. You know, different from now. He's fro California, not Utah. He read
the book--he's just terrific that way--and he was like, 'I didn't realize
that the rest of the people looked upon Mormons that way.' " The classic
western takes a generally unfavorable view of Mormons, who abduct women in
the 1912 novel.
Jackson says he doesn't think all his players read what he gives them, "I
know some guys didn't read them," Jackson says. "But I told them: 'I'm not
going to check up on you. I just want you to know some day that there is a
book there for you. That I was thinking of you. That's all.' "
Interviewed by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, Jackson expounded
on why he thinks reading is so important, even for his players, "The
majority of players find it difficult to find time to dedicate to reading,"
he says. "Their lives move so fast. They're not too busy, but they're too
distracted. I always read before I go to sleep, but our kids now have more
toys than we ever thought possible. They have these wonderful DVD players
for watching beautiful movies. Guys bring the players and 10 movies on trips
and watch them on the airplane. But reading is a stimulation that is very
important to your growth. The other stuff is passive, just absorption.
Reading is a dialogue with a writer. It's thinking. It's an active process
between a reader and another person."
Jackson wants Lakers to do it by the book
Chicago IL Sun-Times 22Mar01 S2
By Rick Telander: Sun-Times Columnist