Selfishness vs. Unselfishness in Basketball

June 4, 2007

First of all, it’s worth it to read this great article by Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post today. Her topic is Lebron James vs. Kobe Bryant, how Lebron has improved by leaps and bounds and discovered himself as a player this postseason, and how all Kobe does is whine and blame people for his lack of success.

And it got me thinking that one thing I’ve always been as a person is humble. I’ve been fortunate enough that when I do things well, people seem to understand and respect my accomplishment without my needing to remind them to do so. In work, I always try to collect blame and lay credit on people who work for me. Yet, I’ve never found that this tactic minimizes me in the office. In fact, my relative humility has endeared me to my staff, and my managers generally trust me since they know that I never bullshit them or lie to make myself look better.

One of the most important things you can learn in life is the importance of putting other people in situations where they can succeed. I learned this from years and years of sports. Playing point guard on successful youth and high school teams, I learned literally exact positions on the floor where different people liked to get the ball. Look, some guy on your team might otherwise be a complete idiot, but he can hit a jump shot from the elbow of the foul line seven times out of ten. In that situation, you have the Kobe vs. Lebron decision. If you’re Kobe, you’ll see only his limitations and you’ll avoid getting him the ball. If you’re Lebron, you may not pass that guy the ball on ten straight possessions, but you’ll see that guy out of the corner of your eye EVERY SINGLE TIME he’s standing at that elbow, trying to get him the ball, wanting him to succeed.

I can remember every important player I played with as the starting point guard on my summer league varsity basketball team (I quit that fall before the varsity season). Chris Lewis was always most effective on the left block, deep down. If I got him the ball more than 7 feet from the basket, he was at least 4 times more likely to turn the ball over and 4 times less likely to score. Matt Thompson was best if you got him open three pointers from the wing or if you gave him on-the-ball picks to free him up for one to two dribble pullup jumpers. Noah Kramer-Dover was best in transition. Etc.

People like Kobe Bryant care only about their own successes and can never truly do more than pretend to care about other people, whereas people like Lebron James succeed BECAUSE they care so much about helping other people succeed. Other people doing well around you makes your job infinitely easier.


5 Responses to “Selfishness vs. Unselfishness in Basketball”

  1. james Says:

    “And it got me thinking that one thing I’ve always been as a person is humble.”

    um, doesn’t writing that make it immediately untrue?

    (anyway, glad to see that you’re blogging again, scottie.)

  2. s Says:

    …then is PRO-gress the opposite of CON-gress, or did I just blow your fucking mind?

  3. james Says:

    very nice ‘america, the book’ reference… (and yes, you did.)

  4. Curt Schilling Says:

    Sally Jenkins and fiction writing.

    Sally is Lance Armstrong’s paid doping aplogist and marketing myth queen. (It’s not about the bike).

    She recently bailed out on Lance’s doper boy Floyd Roid Landis after his witness tampering confession. After slaming the WADA certifed LNDD lab for finding his exogenous testosterone.

    She was NEVER independent of Pat Summit and failed to disclose why.

    She is a fiction writing loon.

    Ignore Sally and her silly fiction columns.

    She is a fraudulent as her subjects.

  5. Doctor SRM Says:

    Say what you like about Lance and EPO but apart from evading the surprise tester in 2009 and having a positive for epo in unofficial retrospective tests from his 99 samples he has never failed a drugs test.

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