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Friday, September 14, 2018

Basketball: Legacy, Whakapapa, and Us

"Everyone has their own version of the truth. But there are facts... you can come up with the best obtainable version of the truth." - Bob Woodward (MasterClass introduction)

Basketball is truth. Kevin Eastman emphasizes it. "You can't fool kids, dogs, or basketball players." Eastman says of truth, "You have to be able to tell it, live it, and take it." 
Why coach? We learn, we share, we teach, and when done well, we leave a legacy. 

James Kerr's Legacy shares the legacy of the great New Zealand ruggers, the All Blacks. They weave Maori culture, language, and traditions into their championship team. 

Chapter 14 discusses Whakapapa, the continuum between past, the present, and future. Kerr writes, "True leaders are stewards of the future. They take responsibility for adding to the legacy." He adds, ‘“ You don’t own the jersey, you’re just the body in the jersey at the time.” It’s your job to continue the legacy and add to it when you get your opportunity."

How do we build legacy? We search for truth and model our best obtainable version. 

Establish and ingrain your philosophy. There is no patent on one way. "Every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser." But every successful program executes its preferred style. Mike Hebert's Thinking Volleyball has an exceptional treatise on style of play. "The Cubans also helped me understand that playing volleyball was not just about the perfect execution of a skill. They told me that it was also about using the skill to express yourself. The Cuban culture is one of passion and appreciation of artistic accomplishment. This includes sport."

Define our mindset. Commitment, discipline, and energy require no unique skills. Teaching, listening, and learning belong to every successful program. Those values apply for both coaches and players. Carry them to the classroom with attention, respect, self-awareness, and self-examination. "What do I need to know?" "How can I grow those skills?" The best choose to make the sacrifices. 

Build culture. Our core values are teamwork, improvement, and accountability. "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Failure to establish "culture clarity" creates a poisonous attitude. We cannot have separate rules for different players. I recently spoke with a patient who played college football. Teammates resented players who got preferential treatment but didn't earn it. "You know who can play and who can't the first day of practice." Mike Lombardi described the same phenomenon in pro football, where organizational pets were excused from special teams. 

Command ourselves. Years ago, I was an assistant and the head coach asked me to take over at halftime, trailing by seventeen. I stayed positive and made some adjustments, including going "offense/defense" in the last few minutes. We tied the game an went into overtime. I felt uneasy about the playing time of some of the players and started them in overtime. We lost by two. I told the girls, "That loss is on me. We proved that we are competitors." Keep perspective, reflect upon and respect the big picture. There's probably only one person who even remembers that game. 

Embrace adversity. "If we can't trust you as a man, we will not be able to trust you as a soldier." Adversity is our teacher, building character and temperament. Our players, not our record, form our legacy. 

Lagniappe: Leadership

Consistency forges results. Leadership is like brushing your teeth. You can't lead once or for a two-day period and be a leader. Leadership is hard work. Catch people doing something right. 

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