Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers use visualization to help their players

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers talks to point guard Chris Paul during practice last week in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers have something in common. They use visualization techniques to help their players.

Rivers has used exercises to help his team see themselves as champions. Last season, four days after he took over the team, he wanted the Clippers to plan out their championship parade route.

Then he insisted on covering up the Lakers championship banners and retired jerseys at Staples Center. On Wednesday, he bought a suite for the Clippers, so they could watch the Kings’ raise their championship banner at Staples Center and imagine it was them who had won a title.


Although the Clippers have never gotten past the second round of the playoffs, Rivers wants his team to believe that they could be champions.

He wants them to feel it. See it. Smell it. Believe it.

Jackson, who coached 11 teams to NBA championships, similarly used visualization techniques to help his players.

During the 2001 NBA Finals, he made Lakers guard Tyronn Lue wear a sleeve while he practiced because he wanted him to envision how he would guard Philadelphia 76ers superstar guard Allen Iverson, who always wore a sleeve during games.

The Lakers went on to win a championship that season.

Rivers hopes his techniques will have a similar effect.