There was a time in the NBA world that there was such a thing as an off-season, but those days are no longer. From the Finals to the draft to free agency to the summer leagues, fans of the NBA receive a steady diet of hoops to last them through July. This summer’s offerings have been especially tasty.
NBA fans are still trying to digest all of the front office maneuvering so far this summer: Richard Jefferson traded to San Antonio, Shaq to the Cavs, Vince Carter returning home to Orlando, Ron Artest teaming up with Kobe on the Lakers and the Celtics adding Rasheed Wallace to their frontline. The league’s elite teams visited the Golden Corral all-you-can-eat buffet while the rest of the NBA stayed home and had grilled cheese. The question is which of these teams helped themselves enough to be crowned 2010 NBA champions?
The general consensus is that San Antonio, Cleveland, Orlando, the Lakers and Boston are the clear cut favorites to contend for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Because of their off-season moves, each team is deeper, more versatile and, potentially, better equipped to win an NBA title. However, there is one major unknown component here. How will these newly constructed organizations come together as teams?
Team chemistry is a phrase often bandied about but never defined. Sometimes it even takes on another name; for the 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics it was the African word Ubuntu. Throughout my four decades in the NBA, I have found that team chemistry is based on eight essential factors: playing with top talent; having great leadership, both on the bench and the court; being committed to team goals; playing with passion; thinking “team first”; empowering teammates; building respect and trust amongst players and coaches; and having people in the organization of great character.
I cannot speak for the impact that Richard Jefferson, Shaquille O’Neal, Ron Artest or Rasheed Wallace will have on their new ball clubs; I don’t know their locker rooms all that well. Those teams have talent and they have leadership, and I know that those organizations are made up of great people. I just think that you don’t get any better than the team in Orlando.
In Orlando, we have accomplished all of our goals. General manager Otis Smith has done a tremendous job surrounding our talented core – Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard – with an outstanding supporting cast. Our team is led by people of great character; players, coaches, staff and ownership are all committed to being champions on and off the court. From owner Rich DeVos to head coach Stan Van Gundy, we have some of the best leadership in all of professional sports.
The team and the fans in Orlando are not arrogant or cocky, we’re just confident. That confidence comes from believing that our staff, our leadership and our players will sacrifice their personal goals for the betterment of the team. In fact, for many of our players, the betterment of the team IS their personal goal. All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson always explains his personal goal as this: “To be the best teammate that anyone has ever had.” That’s the reason Jameer is one of the captains of this team. That’s also the reason Orlando is confident that the Finals will be back in town in June, 2010.
Pat Williams has been in the NBA for 41 years as the general manager of the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic. He currently serves as the senior vice president of the Orlando Magic. Williams’ newest book EXTREME DREAMS DEPEND ON TEAMS explores and explains the art of teambuilding. You can purchase Williams’ books online or in all major bookstores.
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Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams by Pat Williams with Jim Denney