The Management Lesson Of NBA’s King
The best player in the American professional basketball league knows the true path to the top.
The Denver Nuggets won their first NBA championship title after 47 seasons without a title. They defeated the Miami Heat in the Finals. The Nuggets posted the fourth-best regular season record (53 wins and 29 losses) and dominated the playoffs with sixteen wins and four losses (with only one loss in their last eleven games). Over the past 30 years, only the 2017 Golden State Warriors (16-1), the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers (15-1), the 1999 San Antonio Spurs (15-2), and the 1996 Chicago Bulls (15-3) had better playoff results.
This leaves eleven NBA teams that have never won a title: Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz.
The star of the Denver Nuggets is Nikola Jokic, who was named Finals MVP. He is the first player in NBA history to dominate in the three key areas of the game during the playoffs: Points (600), rebounds (269), and assists (190). Last but not least, he is one of only eleven NBA players to have won two regular-season MVP awards and one Finals MVP award. The other 10 make up a who’s who of the NBA, with the exception of Kobe Bryant: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Larry Bird, Steph Curry, Tim Duncan, Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Moses Malone.
The Serbian player was just as unconventional after the final game of the Finals as he was during it: He only began to celebrate his victory after shaking hands with all the players (starters and substitutes) of the Miami Heat.
This behavior aligns with his life philosophy, which is the opposite of the arrogance of the young French prodigy Victor Wembanyama1 (who hopefully has time to mature): “If you want to be successful, you need a couple years. You need to be bad, then you need to be good. Then when you’re good, you need to fail. Then when you fail, you’re going to figure it out.”
This is a useful reminder for all those who, in the world of sports as in the corporate arena, dream of a smooth path to the top: It is by facing difficulties and setbacks, with motivation and resilience, that one shapes the expertise and mindset to reach higher goals.
1 He said in a recent interview: “I have chosen to dedicate this part of my life to basketball. I will do it like no one has ever done it. If I had wanted to be an astronaut, I would have been an astronaut like no one has ever been an astronaut.“