Friday, August 12, 2011

Just finished up reading "The Jordan Rules" by Sam Smith. Yea, yea, I know, I'm about two decades behind on this one! It's a well written book about the Chicago Bulls first title run with Michael and the Jordaires, as the rest of the team is called. Not only is it a good read from a basketball fan's standpoint, it also provided some good coaching insight. I've thrown some of the highlights in below.
What I found so interesting was how dysfunctional the team actually was for almost the entire year. Jordan didn't trust his teammates, they didn't trust him. No one was holding the others accountable. All the players were worried about themselves. They exhibited every single dysfunction in "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team"!! Everyone hated their playing time. Everyone hated their contracts. Everyone hated Jackson. Everyone hated the management for their contracts and the management's relentless pursuit of Toni Kukoc who they had already anointed the next star. They fought and cursed each other out on a regular basis. The locker room was full of gossip and behind the back complaints. It was complete madness most of the season.

Considering the dysfunction, you would think they would have had a season similar to my Timberwolves last year, but they somehow managed to win a NBA Championship. What happened? Well several things happened. First, they had the talent. They were winning games because they had the best player of all time, they also had Pippen who is one of the best of all time, they had guys like Grand and Cartwright to do the dirty work, and they had some guys like Paxson who could shoot from the outside and stretch the defense. They also had some stretches where they were fortunate to play injury plagued teams. So while they were wrought with dysfunction the cream still rose to the top against a lot of the bad teams during the regular season. But it all seemed to change in the playoffs.

They started to come together at the right time, for several reasons. First and foremost, what really stuck out to me was Coach Jackson began to mandate that Jordan start buying into the team concept. He was public with it, at times subtle and at times really up front. He started calling Jordan out for his play. What this did was gave the other players on the team a feeling of respect for Jackson. It also made them feel that they were part of a team not supporting actors in "The Jordan Show". I really think that once Jackson called out Jordan it forced Michael to buy into what was going on - and respect Jackson for it. Jordan, like every superstar, wants the discipline and wants to be coached I believe. They all need to be held accountable. Many coaches, including Phil Jackson himself in the beginning, (and including myself when I was a rookie at South Tama) are sometimes scared to hold that star accountable. We don't want them to quit or mutiny because we are afraid we will loose credibility and loose the team. The truth is, if a star is out of control, the star knows it, the other players know it, and everyone really wants the situation to be fixed by the coach. If this doesn't happen players start to really get frustrated.

Also, it was crazy to see how much Jordan matured himself during the season - he started to become a winner almost overnight. He started to figure out what it took to be a champion and ran with it. He started to trust his teammate he started to find his open teammates, frankly he started to trust his teammates more. At the beginning, Jordan wouldn't pass to ANYONE almost anytime, and especially not in the crunch. By the end of the book he's hitting Paxson for three after three against the Lakers. The development of Jordan in this book really impressed me.

I think this would be a great book to pass along to your "star" that really doesn't get the team concept. I think it would open his eyes to the issues his behavior is causing and what he could become if he buys in and figures it out. I know from now on I'm going to have a couple of extra copies on hand. 

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