Cannabis is becoming legal in more and more parts of the US and the world, being accepted for its medicinal purposes. And it is quite possible it helped a few film sessions and team meetings in Chicago and Los Angeles back in the day. Phil Jackson comes from South Dakota, an area with a strong Native American community. Phil has always used that heritage to appeal to his superstar players, giving them book assignments sometimes completely disconnected from basketball, more directed at awareness and similar topics.
Another method he used was burning sage during film sessions. As Steve Kerr and Scottie Pippen talked about on The Jump in ESPN; Kerr: ”We had a lot of film sessions. Phil was very unique, in that he had very intense interest in Native American history. Where he grew up in South Dakota was near to some Indian reservations. So I remember, and you can jump in here Scotty, I remember when we would lose a couple of games, he’d burn incense in our film room to try to get rid of bad spirits…we were wondering if maybe he was burning something else too, I don’t know.”, Pippen: “Yeah, there were days when we would walk in and look at each other like…”
The most famous story about The Zen Master’s herbal magic came from Shaq, during his Hall of Fame speech: “Many may not know this but Phil always made us meditate in a room filled with sage. Scottie knows what I’m talking about. Now, I don’t know what sage is, but I know what it smells like. So, one day I’m sitting in a room, me, GP and Kobe. I’ve never been high before, but if this is high I think I was it. So I’m sitting there and finally have a conversation with Phil. I said “Phil, come on now” and Phil says “It’s not. It’s the cousin of cannabis.”, so I said “Ok Phil, whatever that means”. So starting today Phil and I will be opening medicinal sage dispensaries all over the US.”
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Whatever it was that Phil was burning, it contributed to 11 rings won as a coach. Gotta google sage a bit more…