Tonight I watched game two of the NBA finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, up until about four and a half minutes left in the game. I mean I really paid attention this time and in so doing, was struck not only by how dissimilar each team is to each other, but gained some insight about us as a people.
The Cavaliers were touted as a team built different from other teams, because it was built to maximize LeBron James unique skills set. The team was assembled around a player built like a power forward, playing like a small forward, yet really directing the flow of his team’s offence as a point guard.
LeBron James is a uniquely skilled player with the typical mindset of the modern basketball player. That is he wants it to be all about him. Such an individual functions best when they are the fulcrum of the offence, yet less so if they were to be just a spoke on the wheel.
Contrast the Cavaliers with the truly unique Warriors, a team that perfectly exemplifies what a team looks like and function like. This is a team that has multiple players who can spot up and shoot the jumpee. Can take you off the dribble. Are excellent passers and all play defense as if they cared and intelligently.
Yet the most telling narrative about the Golden State Warriors is that the players rarely deviated from the team concept, that was initially built by a black man, Mark Jackson, before he was tossed out and replaced by Steve Kerr, who did fine tune the machine instead of breaking it.
LeBron used the power of his talent and influence to surround himself with guys that depended on him feeding them the ball. Players whose success revolves around him and not the concept of the team. This is a failure of LeBron as much as it is a failure of the Cleveland management. If Lebron falters, the remaining players find it difficult to pick up the slack, because they are not as athletic, youthful or as skilled as a majority of other teams, much less the Golden State team. The Warriors on the other hand, will not suffer much of a drop off, if one of their starting five, who each could start on any other NBA team, drops off.
Yes I know this Cavalier team beat a better group of 15 last year. But this Warrior team hot better thtough addition by subtraction. There were better players added to the core of the team, and though the bench is not as good as last year’s, the important bench players still remained.
To me both teams represents a cautionary tale for African people from a family, social or intimate relation’s point of view. As individuals we bring our own unique talents to a situation. However, we are often stymied by individualism, individualistic behavior and egotism. Most of us shun the team concept, rather preferring to be the conductor instead of part if the band.
Many of us instead focusing on our own talents and what we can bring to the table, become jealous or covetous of the other team members gift or evn their presence; fearing they will steal our “shine”! By focusing on everybody else instead of how we can enhance the team, we end up causing all manner of rifts and break downs, eventually causing the team to break up.
The Golden State Warriors slogan of strength in number’s, is a commitment to the team concept. It exemplifies what a symbiotic relationship looks like. Individuals with different skills coming together to support each other, yet still keep their individuality enough, so that they each can step up when one of the members stumble.
A symbiotic relationship is like how each planet revolves around its own orbit, yet in turn revolves around the sun’s electromagnetism and the moon’s cycle in a perfect harmony of balance.
A strong team can work even better or just as good, if there is a mixture of veteran experience and youthful vigor. In fact some of life’s greatest teams have had such a make up and it has not only enable strong championship runs, but also create an overlap where as the experience players transition out, the young players become experienced vets who in turn passes on their experience to the younger players.
What I see around me with my people today, are veterans failing to properly be a jegna to the young ones. They instead become jealous of the youth and fearful that they would be replaced. Often times they would sabotage, the young people’s game.
Then there are really young players who not once looked to the vets for assistance, be so full of themselves, grow disrespectful of the veteran’s experience, seeing it as out dated and irrelevant. Such a fractious environment is forever ripe for discord, blatant in fighting and self-destruction. The elders don’t know or care to give proper guidance and the youth are not interested or don’t care enough to listen to or accept proper guidance.
Throughout my years playing, coaching and watching athletic events, I have embraced the notion that hard work beats talent, if talent don’t work hard. Imagine if the team you are on, is filled with talented and hard-working individuals who share, care and are willing to smoothly fill in where your teammates have holes in their game, or when they stumble?
Yes! Your team works makes your team works. To be a well oiled machine of indispensable and cooperative parts.
This requires deep reflection.