During the boisterous, provocative, and thrilling days of the Kobe/Shaq era early at the turn of the present century, I took it upon myself to perform a psychological tarot reading regarding what I then called “The Kobe Situation” and sent it off like any fan to Phil Jackson the coach of the LA Lakers at that time. Below is my introductory letter to Phil, followed by the tarot reading I divined in my office, and afterwards the short note I received back from the Lakers organization expressing Phil’s appreciation.

Art Rosengarten, Ph.D., MFT, Director and Faculty Presenter INTUITION MIND SEMINARS

Offices: 620 West Solana Circle Suite 2F, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Email:drartrosengarten@gmail.comt   Website:

Dear Coach Jackson:                                                                          October 1, 2003

I’m a licensed psychologist, author, dharma practitioner, and lifelong Lakers fan.  I am also a scholar and professional reader of Tarot cards. 

On the following page, I have included my quick commentary on an impromptu reading just completed. The subject matter is ‘The Kobe Situation,’ a topic all Lakers fans are concerned about, vis-à-vis the rape trial, his mental state at this trying time, and his conflicts with other players in the organization.

Because of your well-known affinities with alternative healing techniques, Zen, Native American ritual etc.  I thought there might be some interest on your part.  As for my background, I have discussed the power and relevance of Tarot as a regular featured guest on Coast To Coast AM with George Noory, the largest late-night talk radio market in the world, as well as in my book TAROT AND PSYCHOLOGY: SPECTRUMS OF POSSIBILITY.  My approach emphasizes not so much a forecast of the future, as deep penetration of “the present.”

If you find interest in this sort of information, please consider me as an occasional resource to you and the Lakers organization, as the need for these special services may arise. As a licensed psychologist , I am well-versed in the ethics of confidentiality, and skilled in psychological assessment and intervention.  

I know little about professional basketball beyond being a fan (and weekend hoopster) and claim no technical knowledge of the game whatsoever. What I do well lies in the access of the “hidden sides” of situations that supersede rational and general observation.  Tarot can be used strategically for game competition purposes, or psychologically for assessment and intervention.

Regarding basketball, as a kid I was also an avid Knick fan, and starting in the mid-sixties went to many games at the old Garden; I have followed your career, obviously, for quite a long time.  My favorite Knick in the late sixties was Emmett Bryant, a brilliant ball handler in his time, and in my humble opinion, one of those great unsung contributors. 

Good luck on the coming season Phil, it should be quite interesting to say the least!


Commentary To The 6 Card Tarot Query: 

The Kobe Situation  

Sent to Coach Phil Jackson, October 1, 2003

By Dr. Art Rosengarten

The situation appears, at first, one of innocence coupled with creativity. Perhaps, Kobe’s popular persona bearing tremendous energy, skill level, and sincerity (The Sun), as well as his seeming intractability, will, and self-assertiveness (King of Wands), which I often describe as “being at the center of one’s own created Universe” are implied by these cards. The situation appears to be one of an extraordinarily talented, energetic, and creative master thought also to be pure, illuminated, and innocent.  Appears, that is, to the outside world.

What is really going on, beneath public scrutiny, in traditional Tarot terms has to do with an interaction between a compromised “Empress” interacting with a compromised King (of Pentacles).  Face up, The Empress is a deep feminine archetype of nurturance, passion, and love.  When she is reversed, however, one looks first to the opposite or thwarted aspects of this theme.  Perhaps, in Kobe’s case, she symbolizes an inability to self-nurture emotionally—a significant deficit, and a required capacity for healthy ego functioning.  It seems that Kobe’s superlative athletic performance has served as some substitute or compensatory behavior for this deficit. The antidote in Buddhism for an inability to genuinely self-nurture would likely be the practice of compassion for others.  

Psychologically, a certain narcissistic injury is suggested in Kobe’s character structure, owing perhaps to a parental failure in accurate empathy or “mirroring.”  In the reading, this dynamic is coupled with a reversed King of Pentacles—“Abundance in Earthly Power”—refering to great external wealth and power that operates internally in an unhealthy and compromised state. One suspects that Kobe’s extraordinary fame and fortune have produced a classic “materially indulged/spiritually barren” psyche. Sadly (as I do love Kobe dearly), the “reversed context” of this young man’s situation with two reversed cards in this position suggests he is locked-up inside the prison of his distorted self-concept—vacillating between both feelings of superiority and inferiority. 

In psychological terms, he is split between an “overidealized and/or under-valued” sense of “self” and others.  Like many great athletes I suppose, he is not able to connect with a down-to-earth, ordinary, “regular guy” inside, which gives him no middle zone, or center to retreat to.

What needs to come out (into awareness), is Kobe’s repressed memory (The High Priestess reversed) of who he really is, perhaps lost early in childhood, and a reconnection with a sense of pure experience (or “mindfulness”).  This is what Kobe needs to heal.He may  benefit greatly from sitting meditation, along with access to a private therapist (or perhaps coach) who can work on this level with him.  To infuse a sense of “ordinariness,” he needs to relearn how to connect with a center (no, not that kind of center!) 

No matter what resolves with this Colorado case, his best response will be to develop a relationship with himself, probably in the contained environment of counseling. It should be properly set up for expression of genuine feelings perhaps unbecoming of a “superstar,” with focusing techniques designed to promote greater access to his own insides.

Further comment would necessitate a deeper continuation with the Tarot process.  Please call, write, or email me if you find this sort of analysis meaningful.

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