Eleven Rings

Philip Douglas Jackson , Hugh Delehanty

Eleven Rings



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Traditionally, at the end of an NBA championship, every member of the winning team receives an engraved ring with their name, team name, and the year on it. Given the extreme competitiveness and high skill level of American basketball teams, winning one of these rings is a sign of great skill, and automatically makes you a superstar. Winning eleven, on the other hand, is practically science fiction. The only person to have succeeded in doing so, is the coach Phil Jackson, and according to him, it is all thanks to his training method, which he developed using a combination of principles from various spiritual disciplines, such as Zen and mindfulness. He reveals this approach in the book, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, which he co-wrote with journalist Hugh Delehanty.

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Analysis and key concepts


The secret to victory is the forging of a spiritual and emotional union between team members


Mindfulness is the first step towards training a team to play at its best


According to Zen principles, a true leader lives with compassion, in the moment, and relinquishes control


The offensive triangle system is the key to team play


Jackson’s method capitalises on the concepts of altruism and equality, from the Lakota Sioux warrior philosophy


Zen teaches us that sometimes we achieve more when we decide not to act


Spirituality and unity are the foundations from which the Bulls and Lakers won championships




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Uncover the secrets of one of the most famous basketball coaches in the world.
  • Learn how to use meditation, Zen theory, and psychology to achieve sporting success.
  • Understand how teamwork is the key to every sporting triumph.

Philip Douglas Jackson is a former American basketball player and basketball coach, who became famous for winning the most NBA championships in history. He began his career as a player for the New York Knicks, with which he won two championships, before becoming a coach. He went down in history after winning eleven NBA championships with two legendary teams, the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, thanks to his coaching method based on the application of Zen and meditation techniques. His wealth of knowledge has filled the pages of several books, including Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.

Hugh Delehanty is a well-known figure in the American cultural landscape, having worked as the editor of the prestigious American magazines, Sports Illustrated, Time, and People, and as a freelance journalist. After completing a BA in English Literature at Brown University, and a degree in Economics at the University of California, Berkley, Delehanty threw himself headlong into journalism. He currently works as a freelancer, and is co-author of the book Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, together with the famous basketball coach, Phil Jackson.

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