Saturday, June 20, 2009


I tried hard to stay awake for the 1st game of the NBA Finals. I made it until halftime. But when I woke up in the morning, I looked to the trusty NBA Playoffs IPhone application and read "Magic 75-Lakers 100." The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant, had put together one of his top playoff performances to give the Magic their worst defeat this post season.

Are the Magic done? Can they bounce back? On Friday, posted on, Superman promised, "We will come harder on Sunday." So with confidence from the man in the middle, I feel we cannot count the Magic out just yet.

Oh...By the way. This team has had a knack for proving their critics wrong. Myself being one of them.

The point of this article is not to predict outcomes or analyze the NBA finals but simply write my thoughts on a powerful lesson this particular teamwork lesson the Orlando Magic team has taught me. It's not anything that I didn't know before, but it is something that I always seem to forget. You know, it's one of those lessons that must beat you down before it can get you to listen.

This Magic playoff run has been fun to watch. The way they have played has been different from other great NBA playoff teams in the past. Their are some particulars through statistics that display their teamwork, like four starters and the first guy off the bench averaging double figures. Like multiple players making big plays, Hedo Turkoglu hitting the game winner against the 76ers, or Rashard Lewis hitting the turn around three in the corner to ice the game against Boston. Or multiple players having huge performances like Rafer Alston hitting six three pointers in the Eastern Conference Finals, or Dwight Howard closing them out with 40 points.

But I do not think all of these things happen if this team does not possess this one quality that marks a great team.

I give all the credit to a high school player (and a Boston Celtics fan) I train for this statement. We were talking about why the Magic keep winning. He said in disgust, "They're a great team. They don't care who gets the credit." Wow, all this time of watching this team and thinking, "Why does this team keep winning?;" I was hit right between the eyes by the wisdom of a high school student.


The Magic are a selfless team. You can see it in the way they play, the way they interact, and the way that they are coached. It doesn't matter who scores what, or who gets the ball at the end of the game, all that matters to this team is winning. Whoever is the hero, the team celebrates, and whoever is the goat, the team encourages and brings them back. This, my friends, is an essential quality of a winning team.


If you are on a sports team, business team, or any other team, here is how you begin to apply this powerful teamwork lesson:

1) BECOME OR FIND A SELFLESS LEADER: The fastest way to build a team who doesn't care about getting the credit is to become one or find a leader who doesn't care about getting the credit. The attitude of the team always follows the attitude of the leader. Selfish motives always leave a leader looking behind him with no followers left. So how do you become a SELFLESS LEADER who is willing to serve rather than be served? Author Ken Blanchard gives 3 ways:

1) "Having a near death experience;" 2) "A spiritual awakening;" 3) "Having a significant role model."

This is why sometimes to become a SELFLESS LEADER first you may need to find one. This is step 1 in building a great team or organization. Without this, the rest of this article is pointless.

2) WORK HARD TO CREATE TEAM MAGIC: Team Magic is the act of taking group of individuals who believe they are performing their jobs correctly and make them into tight knit group committed to working at their highest level for the good of the team. When individuals can put their team or their organization in front of their own goals, the outcome produces a team spirit that's almost magical. It is invisible to outsiders, but felt by the team, it is the most powerful thing a team can have.

3) CREATE A WINK CULTURE: Former UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, understood what creating a winning culture looked like. In his book, Wooden on Leadership, he wrote about how he taught his team to understand the value of each step to their goal: scoring more baskets then the other team. He wrote, "In basketball, a field goal is usually scored only after several hands have touched the ball. No shot is blocked, no play is run, no game is won, unless everyone is doing his job-serving the team to the best of his ability. No one player should take credit for the effort of all the others. A player who is thumping his chest after he makes a basket is acknowledging the wrong person. Thus, I insisted the player who scores "winks" or gives a "thumbs up" to the teammate who helped-the one who provided the assist. That way it was more likely to happen again."

Every "score" in sports or business needs an assist. The more assists a team has, the better it is. And the more that assist person is given the credit, the stronger the team. Create a culture that looks to give an assist, and especially a culture that looks to praise the one who gives the assist.

4) FIND TEAMMATES WHO ARE CALLED NOT DRIVEN: In the Maxwell Leadership Bible, John Maxwell writes about the difference between CALLED and DRIVEN people. Though DRIVEN is a word often used in positive context when speaking of personal achievement, when used in the context of teamwork, it does not fit or belong. "Driven people think they own everything. They are self-serving. Most of their time in protecting what they own. They want to make sure that all the money, recognition, and power move up the hierarchy move away from everyone else to them." Maxwell then gives the description of a CALLED person. This person is the addition that is most beneficial for any team. "Called people are different, they think everything is on loan, their relationships, possessions, and positions. They understand that possessions are only temporary." CALLED people make the best teammates. Everything they do is for the good of the team. There are no egos or hidden agendas. The only agenda is how to serve the team best to win. Sunday at 8:00pm EST, may the BEST TEAM win...