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Team Play - A Turning Point

Game 4 of the NBA Finals was a TEAM PLAY clinic. This style of play, being SO successful, may be a turning point, bringing the NBA back to the greatness that it once had, and deserves.

I love basketball, TEAM basketball. Being 6'11" I am approached daily by people first wondering how tall I am and then "casually" inquiring if I play, or ever played the game. Thank goodness I did, so I can answer, "Yes, I was fortunate enough to get drafted and play in the NBA."

The conversation inevitably goes into their familiarity of the sport. Many talk about how they watched back in the 80s and early 90s when basketball was more of a team game. Usually, the next sentiment is, "But I am just not into basketball as much as I used to be, mostly because it has turned into an individual sport." 

Basketball has never been an individual sport. It is a team sport. 

More now than ever, individuals are marketed, even before the team is promoted. This was a conscious effort on the behalf of the NBA. However, one fabulous NBA player on the team does not make that team successful. So, NBA teams looked to put three All-Star caliber players on a team and that proved successful to a point. But this year, it doesn't matter. Even three, proven, high quality, high dollar players cannot beat an entire team playing together with teamwork. 

A team consists of everyone. EVERYONE. In Game 4, everyone scored for the Spurs. I swear an assistant coach was in the lay-up line in the pre-game warm-ups. It should be this simple: know your job on a team, perform your task, and do what you are asked. By following those simple steps, success will follow. It may take some time to gel, but if you trust in your coaches, have complete buy-in from everyone, and know and perform your role, the TEAM will be headed in a positive direction.

My first real introduction to high level basketball began in college at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. I didn't play basketball until I was 16; I had 10 years of piano lessons before I even picked up a ball. I was in the marching band and was coerced into going out for basketball being 6'8" at the time. You can't teach height and I am left-handed. It was what I should do, so I did.

Thank goodness I was a natural at the sport. With hard work and being coachable, I picked up the game and learned at this high D-1 college level. I didn't have bad habits often incorporated with a player playing their whole lives with little fundamental direction from a qualified coach.

I learned from the get go to be a team player. I knew my role on a team. I played that way, always. I reiterate- it takes an entire team. Everyone. When Wade and Bosh were taken out of their game, there was no room to insert other players; players who were groomed throughout their careers or even during the season to lean on for production. Beasley certainly wasn't going to be the difference maker, unless he was used in this role during the season. Instead, he was not used at all during the season. Haslem was used during the season, but he was not used in the Finals (at least not used at the right time).

I hope that basketball will return to its heyday of fundamentals and teamwork. In Game 4 of the NBA Finals, LeBron's Beast Mode was rendered obsolete. His teammates were not groomed during the season on how to come back from such a large unforeseen deficit. When the Heat went deep into their bench, their chances of winning diminished even more. However, when the Spurs went deep into their bench, their chances increased. 

I believe that with the resurgence of team play, we will see new and more engaged fans. In turn, the NBA will become an even bigger powerhouse in professional sports. 

 

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