Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nice to Meet You #13 - Phil Jackson

There are some people who just exude coolness on a level that mere mortals can’t even begin to comprehend. Lakers head coach Phil Jackson is one of those people.

I don’t even know how to explain it. In the first place he’s this huge guy, which you don’t always realize when you see him on the sidelines. Some coaches look like just any old bum off the street, like Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy (who bears a striking resemblance to Ron Jeremy) or New Jersey’s little Lawrence Frank (who looks like the little leprechaun from the Lucky Charms box). But you can tell that Jackson used to be a player. He towers over the scrum of media, hands placed coolly in his pockets while giving interviews. His hands aren’t so much hands as they are paws, and because he’s something of a cowboy he walks bowlegged, which would look stupid on most people but just makes him look like an even bigger badass.

Truthfully, he’s not a very charismatic personality. Knowing his history as the “Zen-Master” I assumed he’d have a little more mystery and intrigue about him in person, but he’s just a pretty laid-back, normal dude. The way he smiles, though, suggests that he’s in on some joke that nobody else knows the punchline to.

When you’re a kid there are adults that you call “Sir” or “Ma’am” instinctively because you’re afraid of the repercussions if you don’t. These were the kind of people that you worked so hard to please because their approval mattered that much, yet at the same time you’d do anything not to let them down. These people required you somehow feel admiration and fear for them at the same time, and that’s the kind of vibe Phil Jackson exudes.

He’s just clearly a patient, intelligent, thoughtful dude that takes his life in stride. I remember watching Bulls games as a kid, and he would let Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen keep playing through huge bursts from the other team, refusing to call a timeout. He’d just be chillin’ on his chair, scratching his nose or chatting up the assistant coaches, and I get the sense that this is the way he lives every day. No timeouts. Just let it roll.

No comments: