Picks and Pans Review: Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior

updated 10/23/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/23/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty

You might think a book about Phil Jackson's success as head coach of the Chicago Bulls would consist of just two words: Michael Jordan. Apparently, though, it took more than the artistry of His Airness to lead the Bulls to three straight world championships: It took, according to Sacred Hoops, value-based management, visualization, awareness in action and The Wizard of Oz.

These nontraditional tools were embraced by the NBA's oldest hippie (the son of Pentecostal preachers, he rebelled against a strict religious upbringing by adopting an array of spiritual disciplines). Less a behind-the-scenes look at the Bulls than a motivational primer, Jackson's, memoir makes the case that there's "more to basketball than basketball," primarily Zen Buddhism, sacred Lakota Sioux teachings, mindfulness meditation and compassion toward rival players.

With coauthor Delehanty, a PEOPLE senior editor, Jackson explains how he balanced his masculine and feminine sides and became a supremely centered "invisible leader" who—rather then berate rich and spoiled athletes—would show them clips from The Wizard of Oz and lead them in the Lord's Prayer. Yet the coach also comes across as an innovator shrewd enough to persuade Jordan to score fewer points, so the Bulls could become less "Jordan-centric" and achieve team success.

And true to form, he skips the gung-ho guruism of fellow philosopher-coach Pat Riley, opting to "talk about the spiritual aspects of basketball without sounding like a Sunday preacher." Jackson's mellow musings are an earnest and refreshing answer to the dollar-driven soullessness of modern professional sports. (Hyperion, $22.95)

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