The Courting of Phil Jackson


Phil Jackson sits on a throne made of black bear bones while his album of wolf sounds gets touched by a needle in the next room. The howls grow louder as the minutes tick on and Jackson reaches for his ringing phone. He looks at his screen. It’s Dolan again. He presses “Ignore” and his screen is filled up once more with a picture of purple mountain. There is smoke at the top of it and in yellow block letters at the bottom it reads “LAKER.” He thinks it’s funny.

Jeanie, from the next room: Who was that, dear?




What’d he want?

I don’t know. Didn’t pick up.

She appears in the doorway then, wearing jeans and moccasins and a leather vest. The vest is a deep brown, the color of mud, and it has fringe wrapping around it. Sometimes they’d dance when The Band came on and the fringe would clap off the vest and Jackson would clap his hands and it was as if the song had three beats. She blows her bangs out of her eyes and holds a mixing spoon at her side. Her eyes are helpful.

You should talk to him.

I like him sweating.

Talk to him.

I turned his coaching offer down already. He can worry a little bit. He’s ruining my reflection period.

She shook her head.

You and your reflection period.

She leaves and the wolves rage on and Jackson soon hears a blender running. He looks at the clock on the wall. Almost time for his smoothie.

He looks down at the ground, a bear’s face at the end of a rug smiles at him. He bends down and pets its head. The fur is soft. It feels good on his skin. He looks at his ceiling and runs his eyes over the maze of dreamcatchers that hang down from the wood. The catchers come in every color, as if someone set off a rainbow bomb. The air conditioner is blowing hard and there is an oscillating fan in the corner of the room and when the wind touches the feathers they move slowly, swinging backwards and forwards. He’ll let himself reach a trance on lonely days.

The wind catches him and passes through his mustaches and he feels cool and present and never wants to leave. The soft pattering of papers rustling in the corner, shuffling on top each other, moves his eyes toward the window.

Outside the Los Angeles he’s presented with is sunny and warm and inviting and that view is one he could rest in forever.

His phone rings and it’s Dolan again. He let’s it jingle some three times before he ignores it. Standing slowly he goes to his window. His shoulders stay forward when he walks. He looks on the rolling hills, the sun glinting off them, the city of Angels staying a temptress in the distance.

Keep calling, Jimmy. Keep calling till it’s 20 million.

Again the phone clangs. It vibrates in the pocket of his jeans. Jeanie hands him his smoothie and hears the vibrations. She shakes her head. He doesn’t answer.

I’m going upstairs to take a nap, she says.

He kisses her and turns back to the window.

Let the chumps worry some more, he says. Let the world try to make the Knicks matter.

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