SI Vault
June 24, 1996
Phil Jackson's syncretism is at least as nutty an act as Dennis Rodman's.WALTER F. BARCZ, MOHNTON, PA.
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June 24, 1996


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Phil Jackson's syncretism is at least as nutty an act as Dennis Rodman's.

Coach of the Year
Phil Jackson's style shows that you can have Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman on a team without conflict (Silting Bull, May 27). He can unite players for a common goal. He showed that when he brought a Jordanless team to the playoffs in 1994 and a team with a not-so-Jordan-like Jordan to the Eastern semifinals the following year. I am glad he was recognized as the superb coach that he is with the honor of Coach of the Year.

Most of us believe that anyone could coach the Bulls with a team composed of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoc, when in reality it takes patience to deal with 12 conflicting egos who make more money than the coach. Some of Jackson's motivational tactics may be off-the-wall, but he has taken a team with only two players remaining from his championship club of three years ago and turned it into the best regular-season team in NBA history.
Downers Grove, Ill.

In an era when spoiled players have more power than their coaches, it is reassuring that Phil Jackson's players conduct themselves in a way that the NBA can be proud of.

As a high school newspaper adviser who also teaches sports literature, I appreciated your May 27 cover photo, especially your decision to shoot it in black-and-white. Remove Phil Jackson's glasses, hand him two stone tablets and he is Moses sending Joshua ( Michael Jordan) to the Promised Land. Congratulations to photographer Chuck Solomon.
MIKE CONLON, San Clemente, Calif.

I am sick of the Coach of the Year award going to someone who does not deserve it. Mike Fratello of the Cavaliers had a surprisingly good year without the raw talent of a Jordan or a Pippen.

Rushing to the NBA
Your article Going, Going, Gone (May 20) whines that the early departure of underclassmen to the NBA is "ripping the heart out of the college game" and concludes that the "charm" of college basketball "may disappear forever." College basketball lost its charm when it became the farm system for the NBA and universities began accepting students who had no intention of participating in the academic part of campus life. The college game is not in trouble because a few kids who already dedicate their lives to sports start their pro careers a few years early. The colleges are in trouble because they worry about TV ratings and disappointed fans rather than about their real purpose—to develop mind, body and soul.

Favre's Battle
I was sick to learn that the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre was addicted to painkillers, but I was uplifted by his coming out and confessing his addiction (Bitter Pill, May 27). It was more courageous than any of his performances on the football field. What a refreshing change from the stories that have sullied football of late, like those of Michael Irvin and Lawrence Taylor.

We always hear about the illegal side of drug abuse and athletes who deny they have a problem. Favre's coming forward restores my faith that most athletes are good people.
LIZ VANDELINDER, Jonesborough, Tenn.

As a frustrated armchair quarterback who never played beyond high school, I have nothing in common with Brett Favre other than the fact that I am also recovering from addiction, to a medication similar to Vicodin—and I am a pharmacist. His stories of endless nights of TV and solitaire, of not wanting to give up what seemed to be helping him fight his pain, of feeling like a failure and of feeling he let down those closest to him really echoed in my heart. Kudos to all those who stuck by Favre. Long after the rehab stay is forgotten, these people will be his pillars of support.
RUSSELL HALE, Beaumont, Texas

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