I’ve been coming to this house on Flathead Lake in western Montana most summers the past 40 years. My five children count it as the only reliable home that they’ve known after years of bouncing around the NBA circuit: first in New York City when I played for the Knicks, then in Chicago when I coached the Bulls, and finally in Los Angeles when I took over the Lakers. I’ve had a great career living in those cities doing what I love: showing young men how to bond together and win championships. However, I’m a country boy at heart and every year when the season ends in late June I’m itching to head north.
Many coaches spend their summers going to basketball workshops, trying to learn new techniques and get an edge on the competition. But for me the lake is my clinic. This is where I come to get back in tune with my innermost self after a long emotion-draining season. Every championship I’ve won began with a vision, born in silence along these shores. The lake has taught me another important lesson, as well. When we bought this piece of land, I thought it would be a good place for our children to expand their minds by having an intimate experience with nature. But, along the way, something unexpected happened: The lake gave our family the resilience to weather the many changes we’ve endured throughout the years. Now my children have grown and built lives of their own in different parts of the country. But we still gather each summer around the lake, to connect with one another and rejuvenate our spirits. Late at night, after the grandchildren have gone to bed, we often build a bonfire down by the lake and sing songs, spin tales and watch the planets rise and fall across the starlit sky.