The ‘mindful’ New York Knicks

If you follow professional basketball here in the U.S., a little league known as the NBA, you may know that the New York Knicks have been pretty lousy for pretty long. (Being in LA, I may be overemphasizing their suckiness, but they haven’t been the NBA finals in this century and haven’t won it all since before Pattabhi Jois ever came to the U.S.)

Earlier this year, in an expensive effort to turn things around, the team’s owner hired Phil Jackson, arguably one of the best coaches ever, inarguably the best since the early ’90s with the possible exception of Gregg Popovich.

He’s also the one known as the Zen Master.

As he revamps and rejiggers the Knicks, he’s putting his usual mindfulness approach to work, again. As ESPN is reporting:

Jackson revealed on Sunday that he has hired someone to put the team through “mindfulness training” this season.

“This is one of the things that they have to go through if they’re going to be part of the Knick organization,” Jackson said at the New Yorker Festival in Manhattan.


“There’s a mindfulness training program that’s very logical and very calm, quiet and we’ve started the process with this team and [first-year head coach] Derek [Fisher is] all for it. He’s a proponent of it,” Jackson said on Sunday. “And yet I think that it’s kind of what I am inserting in here as part of what I think has to happen because I know what effect it [has]. I think it’s very difficult sometimes for a coach to do this because it’s so anti what we are as athletes.

“We’re about action; we’re about this intense activity that we’ve got to get after. And this mindfulness is about sitting still and being quiet and controlling your breath and allowing you to be in the moment and yet it’s so vital for a team to have this skill or players to have this skill. To be able to divorce themselves from what just happened that’s inherent to them — a referee’s bad call, or an issue that goes on individually or against your opponent. You’ve got to be able to come back to your center and center yourself again.”

His description of the “why do this” and what it might do caught my attention: movement and intensity versus stillness and quiet.

It may be worth noting that the new coach mentioned there, Derek Fisher, played for Jackson on the Los Angeles Lakers, so he’s familiar with the drill.

If you see some really tall guys start appearing at your NY-area yoga studio, you may be able to guess that it’s working. (Although check first to make sure those aren’t Nets.)

Posted by Steve