Neither of us are truly basketball fans, and yet both of us are in awe of the Golden State Warriors' remarkable season and championship.
How could anyone not be? In a league that is dominated by individual stars—individual brands, really—the Warriors grew into the ultimate team. As a result, they won. A few lessons below we’d all be wise to consider.
Drop Egos: We’ve written about this before but it’s worth repeating. Especially when you have the opportunity to work with other high-performers, you’ve got to leave your ego at the door. The thinking needs to shift from better/worse than him or her to complimentary to him or her. The Warriors have 4 all-stars. If each one primarily thought of himself as such, we doubt they would have won. In fact, over the course of history there have been many teams filled with stars, teams that should have dominated on paper, that as a unit could not win. In these instances the culprit is often not injury but ego.
Ask for Help: Lebron James is a force like none-other. No less than an hour after the Warriors lost to the Cavs last year, Draymond Green allegedly texted Kevin Durant “We need you. Make it happen.” This is no doubt a testament to the force that is Lebron James, but it’s also a testament to Green’s humility to realize his team needed help. In a highly individualistic selfie-stick culture, the default option is often to overcome and go at it alone. Many times, that default option is a foolish one. If you realize that you’re up against Lebron James, ask for help.
Practice Adaptability: The traditional emphasis of either “playing to your strengths” or “working on your weaknesses” is too simplistic. Far more useful is learning how to adapt. The Warriors were so dominant not because of each player’s strengths, but because each player could adapt his game based on how both the opponent and his teammates were playing. Perhaps more than anything, this is what made the Warriors unbeatable. They could always get their opponents, even from places and players where no one was expecting it.
Take the Long View: When a struggling Warriors team played the San Antonio Spurs on March 11, in a nationally-televised marquee showdown to see which team would land atop the Western Conference, Warrior’s coach Steve Kerr decided not to play the team’s entire starting lineup. The Warriors got romped, 107-85. This created an uproar and all kinds of backlash. How could he be resting players so early in the season? To find the answer, fast-forward to April and May, when the Warriors won 27 of their last 28 regular season games and then proceeded to go 16-1 in the playoffs. They were fresh when just about every other team in the NBA was fatigued. Sure, some of this has to do with the depth of the team, but Kerr’s decision to sacrifice short-term gratification for long-term gains was also a contributing factor. He took a loss in March to win in June.
Lead from the Back: Steve Kerr is such a good coach his team hardly needs him. When complications from a spine surgery sidelined Kerr at the end of the regular season and during the playoffs, the team rolled on like it was no big deal. Although it seems like the best leaders are those who step out front, the true sign of a leader is one who has built something so good he or she can step back. Great leaders move their teams toward independence, not dependence.
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