• Seven Koans for Seven: Zen Master Phil Jackson’s Playbook for Keeping Carmelo Anthony
  • Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports
  • Melo has a lot of thinking to do and a lot of decisions to make. You know things like whether or not he should go back to braids. Should his next logo try to be funny and finally include a marshmallow? Do people think he’s a funny person? Do people care about his personality? Or do people only judge him on his jumpshot? Were those wild berry Pop Tarts that he ate last night expired? Or is that always how Pop Tarts taste?

    Not to mention he has to decide where he’s going to play basketball next year. He’d love to stay in his hometown and play for his city, but is it really the best move for him? The Knicks haven’t really brought in any major players to help the “Keep Melo Home!” cause, but they did bring in one big dog to oversee the operation: The Zen Master Phil Jackson. So, what is Phil’s pitch to keep the superstar forward in NYC? Well, if you’re familiar with the way of the Zen, then you know masters often teach through the use of koans, short parables and paradoxes meant to help students understand Zen principles. In case offering a max contract doesn’t work, here are the koans Phil Jackson could’ve used to keep Carmelo Anthony.

  • True Craving

    Jackson, a master of Zen, drove an ice cream truck near a park full of children. Dozens of little ones ran up to the truck.

    Some spent more money and got the fancy new triple layer chocolate with caramel and color-changing sprinkles. Others ordered the basketball-shaped bar, knowing it tasted terrible, just because it looked cool. Some bought the cheapest kind, just so they could share more with their siblings.

    The rest looked up to Jackson and asked, “what kind is the best?” He looked at the children who couldn’t decide and said, “is it the taste of the ice cream you desire? How it appears? Or are you craving what the ice cream is telling you?”

    2 of 8
  • Into the Spit

    A group of students sat around a campfire while Zen Master Phil sat toward the edge of the woods, keeping raccoons away with the Super Soaker Spray Cannon 3000.

    One pulled out a skewer and began to roast four marshmallows. As the student began to pull the mallow from the flame, the Master’s hand grabbed his arm and forced the end of the stick back into the spit. The sugar caught fire, bubbled up, and crisped into charcoal as black as the night.

    “You ruined it!” the kid yelled.

    “In order to understand patience and decision-making, you must witness the process and results of time.”

    3 of 8
  • Buddha Food

    Young professor Me-lo was angry with his village, so he ventured on a journey alone, convinced that the others could not help him live a better life. “I am smarter than them,” he thought, “why do I need help?”

    After going off the path he had been taught and had traveled many times before, his surroundings became more and more foreign. Soon enough, he realized he was lost and began to feel trapped. He stubbornly continued onward, but came to a wall of trees taller than he had ever seen before.

    As he stood there looking in amazement, the floor beneath him collapsed, dropping him into an ancient tunnel that had gone untouched for thousands of years. At the floor was a golden fruit that had been thought to have been extinct and was known to the villagers only as “Budda food.”

    Yet, he was alone and had nobody to share the fruit with or to help him out of the sinkhole.

    4 of 8
  • Centered

    In the majestic era of the nuggets, there was a great ball player named Melo. His shot was more beautiful than a triple rainbow made of multi-colored hummingbirds; he could not miss. None of his pupils could defeat him in a game of B.U.D.D.H.A.

    But in the full two-sided game, he was not untouchable, and anybody who played against him had a golden touch. He could not stop them, just as nobody could stop him.

    So, Melo felt that it would be good to go to a Zen master for help. “Stand at center court tonight,” the master said. “They call you Melo. Do not let others steal your name. Do not let them be comfortable. Imagine the great disruption you can create.”

    And Melo did just that. As he stood tall in the arena, he envisioned himself as a lock without a key. Where his opponents went, he prevented them. When they tried to shoot, he swatted the ball. He felt the power building until he saw himself as an octo-defender with more arms than his biggest rivals could handle.

    He walked out of the arena that day and went to the park to play against the best city ballers. He did not allow a point and never lost again.

    5 of 8
  • Three Dots

    Zen master Phillip was sitting in a temple high up in the mountains, deep in meditation, when a monk he had not seen before walked in. The monk had walked for miles and miles to find master Phillip, and now that he had finally found him, he could not speak, for his throat was as dry as the cracked aging wood that created the skeleton of the temple.

    So the monk sat down next to Phillip. He looked at the masters robe, which was wrapped in more golden ropes than he had ever seen. The monk pointed to the ropes and then pointed to himself

    “Follow the shape and you will learn,” he said.

    “What shape?” the monk eagerly asked, finally speaking.

    “Not a circle and not a square,” Phillip said. He ground three dots into the dirt at the student’s feet and walked out.

    6 of 8
  • Skin

    A student walked up to Zen Master without greeting and abruptly said to him, “my pupils in the other temple are advancing quicker than I am, and I have been in this temple longer than them. I am moving.”

    The master looked at the upset student. He was draped in five different sashes, covering his head, arms, and legs. The master removed the sashes and said to him, “your personal achievement hinges not on your location, but on your inner ability to free yourself from the shackles you have set upon yourself.”

    “Can you shed your skin without making yourself too vulnerable?” Master asked.

    7 of 8
  • Big Stones

    The Zen master walked into the room, where a monk was lifting heavy objects in an attempt to get stronger.  “How is that helping you strengthen your mind?” the master asked.

    The monk said, “from the Buddhist viewpoint, everything is an objectification of mind. So, I would say that I’m building my mind with this practice.”

    “Your head is already heavier than all the objects on this earth combined,” the Zen master spoke.

    8 of 8

Around the Internet