30 second time outs

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Caricature of ourselves

One of the most impressive aspects of the Lakers' rise back to the upper echelon of NBA teams, to me, is the manner in which Phil Jackson has allowed the team to develop. What was once a young, erratic and mistake-prone team is now back among the league's elite. Along with Kobe Bryant becoming a better leader and teammate, Jackson's patience and commitment to his players gave the players the confidence to begin to approach their potential.

Phil is often criticized for being hesitant to call timeouts or substitute when players struggle, but that has also proved to be a strength. He trusts his players to make decisions and allows them to play through some difficult times by trying to self-correct their own behavior and performance. This gives players some freedom to play without the fear that a mistake will result in a substitute being sent to the scorers table or that an irate coach will call a timeout to read the player the riot act. Without this confidence the players may not have become the team that they are today.

However, there is always a fine line between "doing what we do" and "overdoing what we do!" This is true in all areas of our lives, not just on the athletic courts or fields. At times Phil seems so convinced that if he continues to be patient, the players will "find their way" that games do sometimes spiral out of control and it becomes difficult to regain command. We may have witnessed that in the Championship Series against the Celtics.

A caricature is a drawing that exaggerates distinguishing features. Often we run the danger of becoming a caricature of ourselves by recognizing the very qualities that bring us a certain amount of success and over-emphasizing those traits to the Nth degree. "The General" Bobby Knight took his personna a bit too far at times and became the very person that the media expected... and then some. Many times the act gets old and a coaches run with a team or school runs it's course. That isn't happening with Phil, unless you listen to sports-talk radio, but it's happened to Pat Riley... a few times. It happens with actors, comedians, performers, and certainly players. While we want them to "do what they do well", they need to have some versatility in their game to be most effective. Too many times people adhere to the "Lottle Principle", That is *if a little is good - a *lottle* must be better!* What do they say about too much of a good thing?

Coach Wooden would always say, "Balance is everything", and he meant on and off the court. I'd also say that we need to maintain balance in our demeanor and personality. It may not be those distinguishing qualities alone that make people successful, but those qualities in the proper balance with other personality traits.

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