Psychedelic Hoops: LSD, Mysticism, and the Los Angeles Lakers
Do you identify as a mystic (Zen Buddhist, Vedantist Hindu, Gnostic Christian, Kabbalistic Jew, Islamic Sufi)? Does the Perennial Philosophy speak to you?
Are you an advocate for the responsible use of psychedelics to achieve creative solutions to problems and to reach “peak” zones or states?
Are you an advocate of consciousness evolution, cognitive development, and transcendence?
If so, now that the NBA playoffs are upon us, I hope you are rooting for The Los Angeles Lakers. Because, and you may not realize this, the Lakers stand for LSD, mysticism, and self-realization.
Let’s look at the LSD connection first. Even if you’re not into basketball, you probably know the name of the Laker’s head coach, since Phil Jackson, a.k.a. the “Zen Master” is the most famous coach in all of sports. Phil has the highest winning percentage of any coach in the history of the NBA (both in the regular season and in the playoffs). He has more playoff wins than any other coach in history and is tied (for the time being) with Red Auerbach for the most championships of any NBA coach, having won it all an incredible 9 times (out of 11 trips to the Finals)–6 with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and 3 with Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers. To further put Phil’s greatness in perspective, out of the last 18 years, Phil has won 50 % of the championships. And if not for injuries to Karl Malone and Andrew Bynum, Phil might have as many as eleven championships during those 18 years. All speculation aside, if the Lakers win this year (and they just might), Phil will have won MOST of the last 19 championships. That is truly astounding.
Phil admitted, in print, that an LSD-induced vision helped him to see basketball in a new way. While tripping, Phil envisioned a new brand of basketball where the players were more versatile and the positions more inter-changeable. Phil realized that, since players often have to switch on defense, you would want tall, strong guards, and active, skilled centers. On offense, too, it helps if your centers can pass and shoot and if your guards can post up and play with their backs to the basket.
Phil would later become the most famous advocate of Tex Winter’s Texas Triangle Offense for just these reasons. (Tex is a consulting coach for the Lakers.)
There is an LSD connection on the roster, too. Lakers Forward Luke Walton has a Grateful Dead tatoo, and he’s the son of UCLA legend and NBA standout Bill Walton, a long-time, vocal advocate of LSD use. You do the math.
And let us not forget the acid head watching the game from center court near the visitor’s bench, heckling the opposing players and working the refs during all important games (and most of the trivial ones, too). For if the Lakers have the most famous coach in all of sports, they certainly also have the most famous enthusiast. No team in all of sports has a marquis fan even remotely like Jack. Jack Nicholson has been sitting courtside at Lakers games for decades.
Jack is quite possibly the most beloved actor in the history of cinema. Even bad impersonations of Nicholson are instantly identifiable by their nasal tone, slowed rate of utterance, and flattened vowel sounds. Jack is so famous that people commonly refer to him by his first name alone.
How did Jack become so famous? Well, to begin with, he wrote a screenplay for a B movie that was directed by Roger Corman. Jacko’s script was called The Trip and it’s about…you guessed it…an LSD trip. The Trip put Jack on the map in Hollywood, but as a writer, not as an actor.
However, when Rip Torn was fired from Easy Rider, after getting in a heated argument with Dennis Hopper, Jack took his place and rose to stardom soon after.