Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lessons from basketball

The San Antonio Spurs won their 5th NBA title last Monday (Sunday in the US). I would say that I was very happy for them. They were not my team. I was even rooting for Dallas in the first round of the playoffs. But I started rooting for them in this season after they overcame the Mavericks in 7 games. To me, it looked like they were on to something and their play epitomised the teamwork necessary to beat teams that usually featured 1-2 or 1-2-3 punches. The spurs were more like 1-2-3-4-5 and then some punches. Not as strong as the 1-2 or 1-2-3 but with 12 guys could really put the hurt on another team. That was what they did to their opponents in the Western Conference Finals who had that 1-2 combination, and that was what took it to beat the Miami Heat (1-2-3 and possibly a 4) in the Finals.

We were joking about the Western Conference Finals that featured the Oklahoma City Thunder agains the Spurs. People were jokingly referring to the latter as "Tanders," which sounded like "thunder" but was an allusion to the ageing line-up of the Spurs. Tim Duncan alone has put in 15 seasons of basketball and is probably the only player who's won NBA titles in three (yes, 3) different decades. 30-somethings are already "old" in a very competitive league that features much physicality. But then the Spurs gave their opponents a lesson in basketball and to some extent, life. They played basic basketball with the movement, passing, and shooting that was how the game was supposed to be played. It was not a case of "me" but of "we" for this team that didn't have the egos or superstar complexes you'd see in other teams. Their 1-2-3 were at least par or inferior to other teams with similar big threes or big twos and their crew was eventually what made the difference in their match-ups.

I think this teamwork is very much applicable to life in general as there are many activities or tasks where teamwork or working together with a group is important in order to accomplish your objectives. Perhaps that is what sets aside certain people we regard as leaders as they can involve other people and make them perform better sometimes even with his/her presence alone. Talent alone does not lead to success. Otherwise, the Thunder and Heat teams could have simply steamrolled against the Spurs. Michael Jordan realised that in the 80's and had to have and involve the Bulls teammates that he had in the 1990's to win championships. Of course, the Lakers, Celtics and Pistons teams of the 1980's also demonstrated the value of teamwork and it is clear that their results are testaments to this lesson.

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