Derek Fisher has always found books as outstanding sources of wisdom and knowledge, and this offseason, he took a page out of his mentor Phil Jackson’s book.
As Jackson often did as a coach, and still does as the president of the New York Knicks, Derek gave summer reading assignments to his players to help them understand his philosophy as a coach, and simply to share a little wisdom with his young team.
“Part of[assigning books] is to give them a sense of who their coach is, so they can understand how I view performance, competition and self-improvement,” Derek told The Wall Street Journal. “Plus, I just like to share information—training secrets, how to recover after practices and games, nutrition. Those are things I like to share to help guys out. And sometimes it’s easiest to share them in the form of a book.”
Last year, Fish and Phil set out to establish a winning culture in the New York franchise. It’s an ongoing process for the leaders of the Manhattan ballclub, and the latest tactic employed by Derek was sharing literature with his players that will enforce a positive mentality, as well as various other tidbits of information that will help them on and off the court.
It seems like Knicks are responding well to Fishers reading assignments and unorthodox approach to changing the culture around the organization. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis was spotted carrying an orange book with him as he was leaving the gym after a Summer League practice last month.
“Coach Fisher gave it to me. It’s called ‘The Positive Dog.’ Took me maybe three days to finish, and was simple to understand—explained in a childish way,” Porzingis said about the book Fish gave to him.
“The Positive Dog”, by Jon Gordon, depicts how imperative it is to have a positive mentality by using a pair of talking dogs. Even though it may come in the form of a book that personifies canines, having an optimistic outlook on life is a code D-Fish has been trying to drill home in his second season as head coach of the Knicks.
Along with Porzingis, Fisher has also shared books with fellow rookie Jerian Grant and second-year youngster Cleanthony Early to stress the importance of having a strong mental capacity and being resilient. Fish assigned Grant a book titled “Developing the Leader Within You,” by John C. Maxwell and “Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else” to Cleanthony Early, a novel written Jon Gordon.
“It was helpful to read it,” said Early, who started reading “Training Camp” after he was sidelined with an injury. “There was a whole part of the book that spoke to my situation, basically a way of telling me to keep my head up and find ways to mentally improve while I was injured.”
Fisher told WSJ that he’s planning on assigning books to Langston Galloway and other fixtures on a Knicks team that has more stability this year after enduring a transitional period in 2014-15 where the roster was in a state of flux. With that said, he hopes the reading plan will have more success for this year’s squad, now that there is some sense of continuity.