Andrew Luck wants his fans to read books. He is now suggesting which books to read.
When Phil Jackson became head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 1989, some observers wondered just how the former hippie would handle the duties of coaching in the National Basketball Association, which was seeing its star rising as a popular sport league in the United States.
Jackson had already proven to be a counter-culture advocate with his book Maverick, in which he detailed the unusual circumstances surrounding his basketball career with the New York Knicks.
So it came as no surprise when it was revealed that Jackson issued a book to every player on the Bulls team in the fall of 1989 as they were preparing to embark on their regular two-week road trip in November.
He explained his thinking in his book “Eleven Rings”:
“Getting the players to turn inward wasn’t always easy. Before the trip I would select a book for each of the players to read, based on what I knew about them.”
Jackson did not ask for book reports. He was well-aware some players did not take advantage of the opportunity to improve themselves in a way Jackson thought was appropriate. But some, the more thoughtful players, did take the time to read the gift Jackson gave them.
I remember that when Dennis Rodman joined the team in 1995, Jackson gave him Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which happens to be one of Jackson’s favorite books of all time. Besides the fact he wanted Rodman to read the book, it seemed almost like an honor to be handed that volume from a man who clearly doted on the wisdom the book provided.
Jackson’s habit of handing out reading material comes to mind with the news that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has started his own book club. You can read about it at andrewluckbookclub.com.
Luck, who attended and graduated from Stanford University with a degree in architectural design, decided to use whatever influence he has on youth and others to suggest they read once in a while. The plan, according to Luck, is to occasionally post two new books to the site, one for “rookies’’ (young readers, offered a book Luck liked when he was growing up) and “veterans”” (books for adults).
The first two suggested titles were “Maniac Magee’’ by Jerry Spinelli for rookies, and “The Boys in the Boat’’ by Daniel James Brown for veterans.
Luck plans to host Q&A sessions with books readers to speak to them via social media about reading in general and the book in specific.
Professional athletes make news in a variety of ways. The bad news, of course, grabs headlines. Sometimes the good news, like when athletes build houses or donate time to worthy causes, gets headlines, too, but rarely have follow-up stories the way the bad news does.
Athletes can influence, and Luck has such a solid reputation as a thoughtful athlete that the book club seems really appropriate. It’s a way to have an influence in a method that can have an influence on lives for years to come.
Perhaps librarians around the country who might not otherwise watch the National Football League now have a player to root for.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.