Maddon On Jackson, Baez & Coaching Greatness

Joe Maddon believes he learned by watching Phil Jackson from afar.

Laurence Holmes Show
April 28, 2020 - 2:25 pm

(670 The Score) In "The Last Dance" documentary airing on ESPN, Bulls coach Phil Jackson's leadership style has been in the spotlight.

Jackson empowered key players like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and most notably Dennis Rodman to be themselves. From afar, former Cubs and current Angels manager Joe Maddon has taken notice of how Jackson has led his talented teams.

For Maddon, there are noticeable parallels between the sports.

"I always found him fascinating, his Zen-like approach to the game," Maddon said on the Laurence Holmes Show on Tuesday. "I never really patterned myself after him, but I've often thought that's the right way to do it."

Maddon has managed many talented stars during his career and is now set to work with baseball's best player in Angels center fielder Mike Trout.

During his time in Chicago, which ended after the 2019 season, Maddon worked closely with Cubs shortstop Javier Baez, who struggled to make his eccentric play fit in the big leagues early in his career.

Maddon was an important influence on the growth of Baez into a star, always encouraging him to be himself.

"I've seen so many times in the past, a guy like Javy, there would've been managers, coaches, front offices, whatever, that would've attempted to manage, coach, whatever the genius out of him as a player," Maddon said. "For me, you should -- never as a coach, never as any member of an organization -- never get in the way of the greatness of an individual player. Promote the greatness, don't get in the way. Don't inhibit it. Don't put restrictor plates and governor plates on this guy.

"Coaches that have come from a different era or have been raised by different people, that's the only way they know how to do this. They can't see beyond that. So, if they're going to coach this kid as a group, they're going to attempt to impart whatever they have to learn on this person, and there's no flexibility whatsoever.

"That's really dangerous. That's when you can coach greatness out of somebody. That's when you can subtract genius out of somebody. That's the danger. And that happens a lot.

"Javy is a genius. About Javy's game, there's a brilliance. If you attempt to get in the way of that, shame on you. To restrict genius in any way, shape or form, that's a moral sin."