IT'S FUN TO hear the Lakers' coach filibuster about how he fits reading material for his players to their personalities, or to read one of Jackson's books about Zen and the art of coaching. Although Jackson gets slack from players that other coaches can only dream of—even the most egomaniacal player has to respect the man's 10 championship rings, nine as a coach and one as a New York Knicks forward—his charges take his airy pronouncements on Shaq's shakras with a grain of salt and tuck the books he gives them, unread, deep into their duffels.
X's and O's
A GOOD COACH switches matchups and draws up impromptu plays on the fly. Jackson has always surrounded himself with great assistants but he makes all of the decisions on the bench. His guys play hard for him not because he has plugged into their auras but because they know he knows the game.