Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Multiple Choice: Finding the Team That's Right for You.

Believe it or not, you control your destiny.  The work you put in, the mentors you choose, and the teams you play for are all up to you.

This doesn't mean you can waive a magic wand and magically pick and choose your path to greatness.  It does mean you

have more control over your situation than you probably think.  You just have to approach your career as a whole with the same focus and intensity as you put towards working on your euro-step.

For example,it would be kinda foolish for a weight trainer to choose bicep curls his only workout.  Could you imagine 3 years of only going hard on only your bi's.  You'd end up looking like this guy.

That said, if all you do is play, workout, and play some more, then that's exactly how you're handling your basketball career.  There's alot more to being a successful player than just being able to put the rock in the hole.

Did you ever wonder why so many sons and daughters of famous athletes go on to be far greater than their parents ever were?  Some of it has to do with pure skill.  But most of it has to do with the things they were taught--about ball and about the business.  They go hand in hand.  

Here are some things you'll wanna take into consideration before choosing the next team you'll play for.   Trust me when I tell you that no two teams are exactly the same.  Finding the right fit, and doing it the first time can make or break your career.

First things First

You've gotta believe.  You have to have full confidence in the fact that YOU can make it happen.  Yes, others can help, but it's up to you to be proactive.  You probably heard the saying 'a closed mouth doesn't get fed.' I like to say 'only the go-getters will ever go get it.'  Look Around. Ask Questions. And Go Make it Happen!

Level of play

Coming out of high school, I was PA state player of the year, but I could've written and called Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke coaching staff until I was blue in the face--it wasn't happenin.   You have to be realistic in the teams that you target.   Look at players you've been compared to, and see where they are signing. Then search to find out all you can about every organization that is similar in level of play.  After you've contacted all of them, then you can go back to shooting for the starts.  You never know.

Know Your Steez

That was a popular song back in the day. It was all about style.  You play a game a certain way.  And you play well when you are put in the situation to play that way.  Maybe you do well in uptempo, fast-break and pressing situations.  Maybe you read the pick and roll really well.   Maybe you play well with your back to the basket, and having someone constantly feeding you the ball inside.   

Choosing any one of the three above is not choosing the other.  They are very different.  A big man that needs the ball inside won't do very well if they're being asked to come out and set a lot of high picks for a shooting point guard.    It's great to know everything about the team you want to play for,  just make sure you will excel playing the type of ball they play.


For this last one, I'm going to explain a personal experience.  One where I learned the hard way about choosing a team with the wrong culture. 

I was always super disciplined about playing and working on my game, so I've never been a big fan of rules when they are just for the purpose of having them. I've also never seen that type of leadership be very effective.   It seems like when coaches crack the whip, it gets redundant, demoralizing, and downright disrespectful.   Like, "yeah dude, that's what we're here for, working hard and getting better, and winning ballgames.  Let's talk about that, not about how fast I run to my spot on the outta bound play.  But that's just me. 

I once had a professional coach tell me I had to be home at mid-night, and if I wasn't in my house when the clock struck 12, I would be fined.  Unless of course,  I called and asked for his permission.  Then I'd be allowed one or two hours more.   There were alotta other fines ranging from not wearing the team t-shirt to breakfast on road trips to using too much tape.  But my favorite was, the fine for being in the training room if you weren't the one being treated.

At that time, I was older and didn't crave the party scene anyway so the midnight fine really wasn't a big deal.  However, I felt sorry for the other guys.  Even the team captain, when he stepped out to have dinner with his wife (In Europe, they eat late) would have to pick up the phone and ask if he could stay out another half an hour, just to have dessert.  WACK.

The city was just an hour away from where I'd bought a house, and wifey had chose to stay home and work that year so I was doing alot of trips back and forth.   

So one day, as I'm driving back into town for a Monday practice, the team car up and stops.  I call and tell coach what had happened.  He says no problem.

The next day the team manager comes up and hands me a piece of paper.  It's a fine.  I take one look and streamline to the office.  "What is this?  Didn't you say it wasn't a problem?"

The coach replies, "Yes.  Missing practice is not the issue.  The problem was that you didn't ask me to leave town."    

Needless to say,  me and this guy never saw eye to eye.  I've never played well for a coach that placed a lot of restriction on what I could do on or off the court.   In those systems, I always felt constrained and played tentative.  I would always tell people it was like boxing with one arm tied behind your back.  

But I could have avoided the absolute worst time of my 13-year career if I'd done proper research about the team culture.

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