Hammers boss Grant is rubbing shoulders with the ‘greatest’

West Ham manager Avram Grant has revealed that LA Lakers coach Phil Jackson is a close friend of his.

PHIL JACKSON is not a name that spings to the minds of many British sports fans, but in the words of West Ham United manager Avram Grant, he is “the best coach ever”.

Jackson is the coach of current NBA champions the LA Lakers; he was the coach of the all-conquering Chicago Bulls and he has more NBA Championships to his name then any other man.

He is also a good friend of globetrotting Grant and when the Lakers were in town recently for an exhibition match at the O2 Arena, Jackson took time out to have dinner with the Hammers boss.

“Phil is the best coach ever and I’m very honoured he is a good friend of mine,” said Grant after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Wolves at Molineux.

“I had dinner with him when he came over to London. The dinner was good, it was a very good restaurant, but more importantly the ideas we shared were good.”

Jackson is considered something of a coaching and motivational genius back in the States. He is known as the ‘Zen Master’ and some of his quotes have been turned into books. He has a sporting philosophy that Grant is attempting to transfer to the world of Premier League football.

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“He’s a big fan of football, probably the only coach in the NBA who likes it, and takes some of his ideas from it,” said Grant, who in turn takes some of Jackson’s ideas into his coaching methods.

“I spoke with our players about what we can take from the sport of basketball.

“The spirit side is good and it’s about how to manage people, how to do the right training, and how to deal with people. As a coach you should always push yourself to take from other sports.”

Jackson is all about the team rather than the individual. He has had trouble with star man Kobe Bryant, in much the same way that Alex Ferguson is currently suffering with Wayne Rooney.

But when you hear some of the quotes from Jackson, they are often echoed in the press conferences of the Hammers boss.

“I think the most important thing about coaching is that you have a sense of confidence about what you’re doing.

“You have to be salesman and you have to get your players, particularly your leaders, to believe in what you are trying to accomplish,” is one of Jackson’s more famous quotes and it is a philosophy that Grant believes could be the secret to success at Upton Park over the next couple of years.

“It’s good to look at other sports and I knew Phil when he was Michael Jordan’s coach,” said Grant.

“I follow other sports. You need to take the best from things whether it’s football or basketball.”

Another of Jackson’s famous quotes is: “In sport, as in life, true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way.”

If that isn’t the life of every West Ham fan, then I don’t know what is.

Perhaps Jackson and therefore Grant are on to something.

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