It would appear that Knicks head coach Derek Fisher has borrowed a few tricks from his former coach, Phil Jackson. That's probably a good idea, for a couple of reasons:
- Phil Jackson is currently Fisher's boss.
- I hear Jackson was plum good at this here coachin' business back in his day.
And if you're going to coach the Zen way, it only makes sense to ply your players with ample reading material. That is exactly what Fisher has been doing, according to Chris Herring.
Jackson was famous for handing out books to his players, tailored specifically for their needs. Former Bull (and current broadcaster) Stacey King was given "Beavis and Butt-Head: This Book Sucks" to prepare him for a career of sitting around, watching stuff, and making dumb comments. Shaquille O'Neal got a copy of "Siddhartha," presumably because it's short as hell and Shaq doesn't have the greatest attention span. And Adam Morrison was given "Che: a Graphic Biography," which explains both his habit of growing horrible, patchy facial hair and his decision to give up basketball and move to the jungles of Bolivia.
Three young Knicks -- Kristaps Porzingis, Cleanthony Early and Jerian Grant -- have been given their own books by Fisher, with the prevalent theme being the power of positive thinking:
"Coach [Derek] Fisher gave it to me. It's called ‘The Positive Dog.' Took me maybe three days to finish, and was simple to understand—explained in a childish way," Porzingis said of the Jon Gordon title, which uses a pair of talking dogs to illustrate the importance of a positive outlook on life.
"It was helpful to read it," said Early, who read "Training Camp: [What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else]" last season while recovering from a procedure on his right knee. "There was a whole part of the book that spoke to my situation, basically a way of telling me to keep my head up and find ways to mentally improve while I was injured."
Grant was given "Developing the Leader Within You," which sounds like a good lesson for a young point guard.
I suppose the cynic in me should get a chuckle about pro basketball players reading self-help books featuring talking dogs and whatnot, but I just can't help but smile when I read these quotes from Porzingis and Early. I'm at a point in my life where I need to find a more positive outlook on life. It is critical to your mental (and even physical) well-being, and it's not exactly easy to find nowadays. If that messages get through to these kids, it can help them as players and as people.
So cheers to you, Derek Fisher. I'm not sure yet if you're a good coach, but I support your attitude toward coaching and your talking-dog-book policy.