The NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp is a special event because it places as much emphasis on building character off the court as it does building players on the court. There were daily sessions that addressed topics such as drug abuse, social media savvy, and the fatal dangers of texting while driving, as well as other pitfalls that many players fall victim to (in reality they don't actually fall victim at all...everything in life comes down to choices, decisions, and consequences).
This camp is the only event where I am not the strength and conditioning coach—but rather an actual basketball coach! I was one of 10 high school coaches selected to coach a team during the week. This was a unique experience and fun challenge for me. Each high school coach was assigned an NBA player (either current or retired) to serve as an assistant coach. Last year I had Chris Duhon (Orlando Magic) and Brian Cook (Los Angeles Clippers). This year I was assisted by Luke Walton (Los Angeles Lakers) and Tim James (Miami Heat, retired). I left the X's and O's to those guys and I handled the motivation, team building, and chemistry.
Luke Walton has an incredible basketball resume. His father was arguably the greatest college basketball player of all time and is enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts. Luke played for a Hall of Fame Coach in Lute Olsen while at Arizona. He is currently teammates with the best player in the game (Kobe Bryant) and plays for the most decorated coach in NBA history (Phil Jackson).
I asked Luke to name the 5 things that make Phil Jackson the game's greatest coach.
Here is what Luke Walton said:
• Phil works hard to keep his team balanced and even keel. He never wants his players too high or too low. He wants them to have the mind of the 'Peaceful Warrior.'
• Phil has an incredible ability to connect with every player as an individual. He doesn't treat everyone the same. He works to connect with each player on a much deeper level than most coaches do. That is why guys love playing for him.
• Phil is extremely intelligent, almost to the point of being intimidating. He is well cultured, well read, well informed, and knowledgeable about every subject. He knows facts about everything and everyone. His intelligence demands respect.
• Phil is more of a manager of the game than he is an X's and O's architect. He takes pride in molding a group of individuals into a cohesive unit. He specializes in chemistry, not drawing up plays. That's why he loves the challenge of a Dennis Rodman or Ron Artest... they are a test to his ability to create a team.
• Phil is confident. He knows what he does works. Period.