Monday, June 11, 2018

Basketball: Stakes, from Playground to Playoffs

"Pressure is playing a 5 dollar Nassau with 2 dollars in your pocket." - Lee Trevino



What are you playing FOR? The "stakes" vary a lot. The NBA recently completed its championship with the Warriors besting the Cavaliers to win their third title in four years. Players build their reputation, their brand, their earning potential. 

The playground has stakes. "Winners" stay. Winners make school teams. I'll spare you Sean Connery's line about winners from The Rock. In practice, some teams "confirm" scrimmage wins by making a free throw. Stakes relate to running extra sprints. Been there, run that. 

Spencer Haywood faced big stakes trying out at the University of Detroit. Make fifteen consecutive free throws to earn a scholarship. He did; the rest is history

In Teammates Matter, Alan Williams discusses having to tryout (after coaching change) after making the team as a walk-on at Wake Forest. The stakes meant remaining part of something bigger than himself, despite having a small 'playing' role. 

A player might be playing for visibility, the chance of earning a scholarship, for numbers (some players fixate on statistics), or even rivalry (versus another teammate or a competitor in their league). Rarely, people play for validation, to show they are 'good enough' to compete. "I'll show them." Legendary All-Blacks captain Richie McCaw played to be the best. As a young child, his uncle made him sign, Richie McCaw, G.A.B. (Great All Black). Of course, professionals play for money, contracts and endorsement spoils. 



Bill Russell played for championships. "My ego depends on the success of my team." 


Sometimes, we hate what we're doing...lack of intensity, lack of energy, lack of conviction, ball movement, whatever. Play has to match the stakes. Judd Apatow shares why scenes may not work in his MasterClass (screenshot above). 

Stakes also define how you play. The "secondary characters" can't get the best shots, the most shots, or have the best plays run for them. Stars own the lead roles. James Patterson would advise that secondary characters don't get the best dialogue. 



March Madness pays out in "units" of $273,000 per unit for six years. The Big Ten and ACC took home the lion's share. Hail to the victors. 




Coaches have stakes, too. "Street cred." We have reputation, respect, renown, and sometimes the next job. In the classic basketball movie, Hoosiers, Gene Hackman as Norman Dale, coaches for redemption. We coach for personal stakes - love of the game, competition, and the joy of working with committed players. 

In an individual game, the stakes include "bragging rights", rivalry, revenge, championships, or sometimes, nothing. 

What are your stakes? 

Lagniappe: via Chris Oliver 




Double bonus lagniappe: (make the right read)

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