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May 31, 2012

Tim Kolodziej: We can learn a lot from success of Spurs

NEW CASTLE — It doesn’t matter if you haven’t watched a lick of pro basketball this year.

I hear that a lot, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t.

But let me tell you something: it’s your loss if you don’t take at least one look at the play of the San Antonio Spurs.

For the basketball purist, they meet — and surpass — all the standards of a beautiful game.

For the casual observer, they display everything a successful team should be.

And in doing so, the Spurs have not lost since April 11 and are perfect through two and a half rounds of the playoffs. It certainly looks as if they are poised for a showdown with LeBron, D-Wade and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

But first things first. What makes the 2012 Spurs so special? And what could coaches and business leaders learn from them?

Here are four lessons we can all start applying today.

•Teamwork — You may have heard the line, “It's amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” We see it come to life each time San Antonio takes the floor.

Crisp passing, terrific help defense and a different player coming up big depending on the situation.

There’s a unique trust among the eight-man rotation. And trust often leads to confidence in the clutch.

***The application for coaches and supervisors: There might not be four more powerful words than “I believe in you.” Who needs to hear that phrase today? Say it and watch amazing things happen.

•Humility — Selfless, savvy and united. You can just tell these guys like each other and it breeds excellence on the court. No chest-pounding. No blabbering in the media. No picking fights after a hard foul.

The Spurs just play. Hard. Smart. And every possession.

Each player knows what he can and can’t do, and defers to a teammate when the situation arises.

***The application for coaches and supervisors: We must focus on effort, nurture strengths and continue to impress upon those in our care that they are uniquely gifted for a reason. As Bill Belichick is fond of saying, “just do your job” and don’t try to be someone you are not.

That’s what you have teammates for.

•A great mix — Young and old. Stars and role players. The Spurs are built for sustained excellence.

Their big three — Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan — are the heart of this team and lead in ways seen and unseen. And they are surrounded by some terrific players who understand their roles and are focused on the big picture of victory.

***The application for coaches and supervisors: We have rock stars. And we have rock-solid performers. We have young and hungry players and employees. And we have savvy veterans who can lend wisdom and experience. The key is to always make sure there is balance. Too much of either and you’re headed for trouble. You get the right mix and ... look out!

•A steadying force — Coach Gregg Popovich is a determined and gifted leader.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at him or listening to him. He’s often unkempt and his press conferences can put even the most ardent fans to sleep. He is the polar opposite of John Calipari.

Yet he has an eye for talent, a knack for building chemistry and the heart to push his teams through the most difficult of situations.

***The application for coaches and supervisors: Just because you don’t have the gift of gab and don’t “look the part” of leader doesn’t mean you can’t build something special. It’s not about you anyway. It’s all about your team. Your job is to point them in the right direction and empower them to get there.

Call it what you will, but here’s how Popovich so famously put it during a timeout on Sunday: “I want some nasty!”

You got it, Pop.

And fans of teamwork, humility and leadership are taking notice everywhere.

At least I hope they are.

 

 

Watch Spurs coach Gregg Popovich utter his now famous “I want nasty” speech during a timeout.

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