Well the NBA Finals wrapped up with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavilers winning it all. It also kicked off one of the craziest NBA free agent frenzies since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach. The top prize in the NBA free agent season went to the already loaded Golden State Warriors, who signed one of the best players in the game, Mr. Easy Money Sniper Kevin Durant.
Another NBA team that did well in free agency was the San Antonio Spurs with the signing of Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili and Dewayne Dedmon. Those three additions give them an overall grade of A in the free agent sweepstakes. The Spurs seem to always receive an A in almost every category one can think of, that’s just who they are… an “A+” organization. The Spurs had an amazing 2015-2016 NBA season, only to be overshadowed by losing in the playoffs to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State’s NBA record breaking season. The reality when it comes to the Spurs is as long as Gregg Popovich is the Head Coach they will always be competitive. There is so much we all can learn from the San Antonio Spurs and as of today so much we can retired NBA Hall Of Famer Tim Duncan. Yes, Tim Duncan has decided to take a stroll down the riverwalk of retirement after an amazing 19 year NBA career.
Not only did the Spurs have a great team but they were smarter, more disciplined and better coached than any other team in the NBA. The Spurs have been lead for years by the veteran of all veterans, Tim Duncan. Duncan will go down as one of the greatest NBA Superstars ever. Duncan now has the most playoff games and double-doubles of any player in NBA history. Duncan is a SuperStar who shined bright like a diamond while staying outside of the spotlight.
In a day an age where athletes have done it wrong, taken shortcuts to championship and can’t even begin to spell the word loyalty, Tim Duncan did everything the right way, all while being loyal to his city, his team, his coach and the things that make you a true champion. We can talk all day about Duncan’s life and example… not only can we talk about it, there is a lot to learn about life and leadership from him and his career. I thought I would honor Tim Duncan’s Spectacular 19 year career with these 10 Great Life and Leadership Lessons.
10 Leadership Lessons From The Life and Career Of Tim Duncan.
- 1. Substance Over Style – “The Big Fundamental” Looking good is great, performing great is better. Duncan doesn’t win the style contest, but he is a straight up winner.
- 2. Greatness Is Appreciated More When It’s Gone – Tim Duncan’s Game, Career and Place in history won’t be appreciated until he’s retired and gone.
- 3. Great Leaders Know When To Defer – Duncan has admittedly turned the team over to Tony Parker, which has extended his career and allowed him to continue his greatness. It looks like he may be turning it over to Mr. About His Business Kawhi Leonard real soon.
- 4. You Can’t Care What People Think – Duncan doesn’t get the commercials, the shoes, the endorsements… He just gets the trophies. Duncan could care less what people think about his personality or lack there of, all he does is win.
- 5. Classy over Sassy – Tim Duncan is one of the classiest players in the NBA. It’s hard not to like classy… when in doubt, keep it classy.
- 6. Quietly Be The Best At What You Do – Tim Duncan will quietly go down as one of the best power forwards to ever play the game. Period, the end.
- 7. Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last – Nice guys finish wherever they want to finish, Duncan is nice and he doesn’t finish last. 🙂
- 8. Get Better With Age – Just like a fine wine, they say some things get better with age, great leaders get better, lead better, play better and make better decisions with age. Duncan seems to get better the older that he gets.
- 9. Know How To Lead Up – Duncan plays for a tough coach and he’s one of the few players that knows how to lead up, talk to Popovich, how to handle him in the media and how to lead up. There is an art to leading up and Duncan figured it out.
- 10. Make Those Around You Better – Duncan makes his teammates, his coach, his city, his community and the NBA better.
By far the best acceptance speech in the history of the MVP Award. Kevin Durant started by thanking God, he displayed humility, he never focused on himself, he gave personal credit to every single team member and coach, he reflected on the past, he talked about hard work and sacrifice, he shared stories, he made a special note to talk about Westbrook, he gave his mother the credit due and he ended with thanking God last. God is Alpha and Omega.
As a proud member of the Oklahoma City community and Oklahoma City family, I’m glad Kevin Durant is a part of our framily plan. Seriously this guy is a great example and as he stated, “He uses basketball as a platform to inspire others.”
This video is a must watch for anyone that leads, has children, has a desire to succeed or if you just need to cry some tears of joy.
I really like what I see of Steven Adams in this workout and video. He is a natural in front of the camera, his workout looks superb and you can see Thunder GM Sam Presti in the background. I actually think all of the jockeying that the #thunder were doing with trade stuff was simply smoke and mirrors. I think the #Thunder front office knew they wanted this guy.
If there are two things the #Thunder organization does well, it’s drafting and developing players. Remember a little somewhat unknown guy named Russell Westbrook who couldn’t play point guard, or the 3rd pick in the draft a few years ago James Harden (before the beard) or how about the 24th pick shot blocker from the Congo Serge Ibaka.
Every player that gets on the #Thunder roster gets better, period the end. Look forward to what they do with this young tough big man. I love that he’s so smooth, was a former rugby player, likes contact and he’s from New Zealand (everyone that I know from New Zealand is awesome.)
More Steven Adams Highlights Below
One things is for sure… Steven Adams will be one of the more popular Oklahoma City Thunder Players this off season.
Those of you who have followed me for awhile, know that I’m a fan of 2 sports teams: OU Sooners and OKC Thunder. Additionally, I’m also a fan of great leadership, leadership lessons and seeing people realize their leadership potential. The Oklahoma City Thunder are a young franchise filled with young players. Fortunately for Thunder fans like myself, neither of those two factors has limited their success. The Thunder have been very successful and I’m a true believer that everything rises and falls with leadership, in this case the Thunder have risen because of great leadership and having great players is a part of great leadership.
I thought I would share 7 Leadership Lessons From The Oklahoma City Thunder.
- 1. Size Doesn’t Matter – Although Oklahoma City is a small market team, that has not prohibited them from being successful in comparison to the Big Boys. Not only did the Thunder make it to the NBA Finals last year, they are consistently outranking NBA franchises in all areas from much larger markets. They have been voted by ESPN The Magazine as best franchise in sports, Kevin Durant ranks #3 in Jersey Sales, #12 in NBA Franchise Values…
- 2. Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number – The Thunder were the youngest team in the NBA last season and are still at the top of the youthfulness meter this year. The Thunder get it done with a young franchise, young GM, a young coach, young players and a veteran named Derek Fisher who is obviously young at heart.
- 3. Release and Reload – In just a few years the Oklahoma City Thunder have released more players to greatness than some teams will ever see. Some notable players they have released in the last year or so include some of this seasons NBA Stars, all of who played or are still playing in the playoffs: James Harden, Nate Robinson, Jeff Green, Eric Maynor, Daequan Cook… The bottom line is the Thunder has a strong enough leadership culture/supporting cast that they can truly release and reload, while staying lean with salaries.
- 4. Hungry Hungry Hippo – The Thunder remain hungry and have a hungry swagger about them. When Kendrick Perkins showed up from the Celtics, the Thunder didn’t just have a sense of hunger, they developed a sense of toughness that was needed to compliment the hunger. To top that off, Russell Westbrook’s me against the world swagger is just the right seasoning for the team leader and currently injured point-guard extraordinaire to keep the team pressing full steam ahead. It’s contagious!
- 5. Development Is The Lifeblood- Development is crucial when it comes to leadership. Many thought Russell Westbrook was drafted too high and couldn’t play point-guard in the NBA. Obviously the 2-Time All-Star has crushed those thoughts, as he has developed into being one of the best point-guards in the NBA. (He may not be be a “traditional” point guard, who needs traditional when you are great?) Hasheem Thabeat was drafted high and could never seem to get on the floor when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies; however since he arrived in Oklahoma City, he has put up career highs in almost every category and has been a key ingredient off the the bench all season. The Thunder have been praised by their use of the d-league system. Their d-league team is just an hour and a half away in Tulsa and players have been known to play in the d-league and get some playing time for the Thunder all in the same week. Derek Fisher was brought in not only for his contributions that we have seen in the playoffs, but to help develop both Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson (it’s hard to argue with 5 rings and more playoff games than every NBA player besides a few.
- 6. Look Into The Future – The Thunder Leadership have tremendous foresight. Whether it’s seeing the unreached potential of a rising Serge Ibaka and signing him to a max deal, the realization that it would be almost impossible to keep James Harden around, to re-signing Derek Fisher this year which proved to be one of the more Big Time decisions ever, with the loss of Russell Westbrook.
- 7. Culture Trumps Everything – The thunder has a unique culture, a culture that aligns with the culture and values of the city and the fans. At the end of the day “We are about team, we are about community.” It was nice to see the free Thunder t-shirt represented by every fan during Game 1 with the Grizzlies, simply said “Community” across the chest. Other free playoff t-shirts in the past have said “We Are One” “Thunder Is Community” “Rise Together” you get the picture. Culture is so critical, a great culture will bring out greatness in everyone. Money + Great Players + Big Cities ≠ greatness. If you add the 7 things on this list, you are destined for greatness.
The Thunder may have a little ways to go before they can take out the already crowned repeated NBA Champions Miami Heat. They are definitely close and are clawing at their heals. Greatness takes time to achieve and leadership is the only road to greatness. Don’t worry about size, age, losing key pieces to the puzzle, simply stay hungry, develop what you have, have some foresight and remember culture is crucial. For the record, this Thunder fan isn’t crowning the Heat. The easiest way to fall is to think that you have already arrived.
Do any of these resonate with you and your organization? Share your thoughts?
Once the dust settled I became a little more okay with the James Harden trade from my Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets. I basically had to settle on, “It is, what it is!” The trade created lots of great discussions for the City Of Oklahoma City, The Thunder, The NBA, Value and Leadership.
There were some one one side of the spectrum that thought Harden should have just conceded and took the deal that the Thunder offered ($53 million over 4 years). Harden and the Thunder were off about 1.25 million per year. There were others on the other end of the spectrum that thought the Thunder should have just ponied up and gave Harden what he was asking for. You only get a few opportunities to make a run at an NBA Championship and Harden is the most popular visible figure on the Thunder roster second to Kevin Durant. Conclusion – The Thunder gave Harden hour to make a decision and the end result was a trade of Harden to the Houston Rockets.
Often times when it comes to leadership, roles, contributions and value organizations and leaders like to play the sacrifice card. Harden should sacrifice to be a part of a winning team. Harden should sacrifice, it’s just a few million dollars. Harden should sacrifice, look what Ginoboli did for the Spurs. Harden should sacrifice, he’s not even a starter. “You have to sacrifice, we sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.” I’ve seen it in every type of organization that you can imagine.
Speaking of sacrifice, Harden kicked off his Debut with the Rockets last night and he went “Beast Mode” as the young folks say. With only two practices under his belt, The Bearded One dropped 37 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, four steals, and a block. Harden is only the 4th player in NBA history to do so. You might ask, “Who are the other 3?” Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Dwyane Wade… that’s some pretty good company in your debut as a starter.
When it comes to sacrifice, maybe the real sacrifice was James Harden gracefully coming in off the bench and contributing everything he had as the 6th man for the Thunder. Maybe the real sacrifice was Harden taking the 3rd role seat when clearly he’s a first role player. Maybe sacrifice was playing Robin’s little brother, when clearly he’s a Batman. Maybe sacrifice was playing for less money, when he clearly could have gotten more.
Check out the highlights from Harden’s debut game last night… they are very telling. James Harden is not only a Super Star; he’s a Super Star that makes his teammates better. Oh and Harden’s deal with the Houston Rockets $80 million over 5 year$. When you watch the highlight video, you will hear the announcers keep screaming that $80 million dollars is a value.
I agree, $80 million is a value and I believe we have to be careful when we throw around the word sacrifice because it’s really difficult to know what those around us are sacrificing and it’s also hard to truly assess someone’s value, worth, contribution and sacrifice to your organization and your team.
James Harden, Sacrifice and Leadership.
Watch the video below and share your thoughts on this post and Harden’s debut.