What Coach Phil Jackson Taught His NBA Teams

take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10

…give respect and honor…” Romans 13:7

What coaching advice would the top coach in the National Basketball Association give to other coaches and teams? The word is respect.  Lots of respect. This is a virtue which seems to be entirely lacking/missing in most of the younger generation. Life has no value without respect. Sports could use lots of it.

Recently JoAn and I were visiting the Joneses, our Montana family. Paul, my brother in law, and Phil Jackson both were sons of Assemblies of God church pioneers. Their friendship covers an interesting lifetime. JoAn and I were on occasion young guests in Mom and Dad Jackson’s home. Phil went on to become the famous coach of NBA championship teams.

Phil dropped by the other day for a family visit while we were there. He reminisced how his parents had more faith than medicine when the Jackson kids got sick. They only kept on hand three medicines: aspirin, iodine, and anointing (olive) oil. Phil recalled how actually the olive oil worked best.

When I asked what advice he offers in his coaching school, Phil had a ready answer. “Respect. Teach respect. The team should respect their opponents. And why not? Your opponents make you better. They make you work harder. Respect them for that.” He continued, “Don’t teach to rally players to go out and kick the tails of their opponents! Rather show respect by outplaying them. Respect opposition. It only makes you better. A good opponent makes you play better ball.”

Today’s generation seriously needs to learn respect. To show respect is to add value to those whom we regard. Where there is a lack of respect there is a lack of human dignity and life values. Nobleness is lost. Respect matters, for it goes hand in hand with gratitude.

The Apostle Paul wrote forcefully about the need for love, respect, and honor. His exhortations in Romans 12 and 13 are often referenced as the Law of Christ by Christian scholars. Such qualities he describes are not optional virtues for the Christian community. Loving respect is absolutely essential for church leaders. In fact, everyone should know that if one wants to receive honor, one must sow honor. An authoritative position alone does not merit honor. It must be earned.

Finally, Phil shared a memory of the death of his dear old preacher dad. When Pastor Charles Jackson passed, Phil and his two brothers Joe and Chuck dug his grave by hand. No machine touched that burial plot. Preacher Charles Jack son was laid to rest beside The Little Brown Church in the Valley, in Big Fork, Montana. The grand old man was mourned, but truly respected.


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