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Phil Jackson On Playing Above The Referees

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Positive Coaching Alliance’s National Spokesperson, Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11), is perhaps the greatest basketball coach ever and among the best coaches in the history of American sports. He holds the NBA record of coaching 11 NBA Championship teams with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Now a New York Knicks executive, Jackson contributes to PCA’s mission through fundraising activities and event and video appearances. He also wrote the foreword to PCA Founder Jim Thompson's (@JimThompson18) book, The Double-Goal Coach®.

In this clip, Jackson shares his approach to the game referees. His operating assumption is that the refs are doing the best they can. They are professionals, and it’s important that coaches and players respect their commitment to their job and to making the right calls.

Jackson admits that basketball is an “impossible game to ref” and that referees are subject to biases and players can certainly fall into disfavor with them. However, the outcome of their behavior is reflective of effort, and coaches must control what they can. The best approach for a coach is to encourage athletes to play above and beyond the referees.