I’m aware of the risks of stretching topics to the point of transparency, but I have to note the high quality of what’s happening in the NBA playoffs right now, at least from a team and management perspective. The best lessons I’ve learned about teamwork, leadership and success come from my experience in competitve sports – especially basketball. And right now some of the best basketball the NBA has seen in a long time is being played.
I’ll hold off on the treatise comparing sports teams to design or management, but I can say this: Every one of the four teams still in the playoffs plays like a team.
- They have shared goals
- They help their teammates
- They check their egos at the door
- They work hard
- They play to win
- They love what they do and show it
Typically the NCAA tournament, where amateur athletes play every game like it’s their last, is the most exciting event in sports, with every game coming down to the last minute, or the last shot. Well this year the NBA playoffs have seen more lead changes, game 7s, and last second turns than any year I can remember.
The coaches of these teams set a high standard of leadership and management. Pat Riley, Avery Johnson, Flip Saunders & Mike D’Antoni have all earned solid reputations for building great teams and managing them with a sense of balance, integrity and professionalism. Given the size of the egos and sallaries of players, it takes a masterful manager to keep a sense of team together. I’m a particularly strong fan of Avery Johnson, a former point guard, for how open and honest he is about what’s he’s doing and why.
Steve Nash, Dwayne Wade, Ben Wallace & Dirk Nowitzki, four of the biggest stars from each team, approach the game in the old school, fundamentals way. The way I was taught to play. None of them are flashy, show-boat, trash talking players. They leave it all out on the floor and let their games and work ethics speak for them. There is nothing more exciting than watching a great talent who isn’t isn’t in love with themselves as much as they’re in love with with the game, and profession, they’re in. These guys play with respect and make you want them to win.
The result of all this is some excellent, high excitement, team based basketball. It’s a throwback to the NBA of old. And the best news is that there are still two rounds of playoffs left – If you want to see great teams in action, tune in to watch Miami vs. Detroit, or Phoenix vs. Dallas, and see for yourself.