The BestTeam vs. The Right Team

Monday, June 13, 2011

Good Evening Divas! For those of you who have been out of the sports loop, last night, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat and ascended to NBA Championship glory. You heard me right! The Mavericks, who have been the underdogs since entering the playoffs, defeated the much celebrated and heavily favored Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Today, the sports world was abuzz with opinions on where the Heat went wrong. How did a team with three of the top players in the NBA lose?  How did a team that dominated during the regular season and the playoffs fall from grace in the Finals? What the hell happened!

In listening to various sports commentators last night and throughout the day, the blame was placed everywhere. Lebron’s fourth quarter flops. D. Wade’s failure to dominate on both sides of the court. The Heat’s lack of defense. Now, I don’t claim to know it all when it comes to basketball, but I do have my own theory as to why the Miami Heat loss their shot at the trophy. And in true Professional Diva fashion, I have somehow created a comparison to something that often happens in the corporate world. Follow me on this one….

Several years ago I had the opportunity to see the movie Miracle, which is a biographical film portraying the United States Men’s Ice Hockey team that went on to win the Gold Medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics. In the movie, the newly-selected head coach, Herb Brooks, was criticized for not selecting all of the best players in the country for the team. When his assistant coach, Craig Patrick, pointed out the obvious fact that Herb was not selecting the best players, Herb responded, “I'm not looking for the best players, Craig. I'm looking for the right ones.”

Cut to July 2010, when Lebron James told the world in a nationally syndicated broadcast that he would not remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that he would be taking his talents to South Beach for the upcoming NBA season. Lebron was on his way to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to form a “Super Team.” A dark cloud descended across the Eastern Conference and the NBA alike. The Heat was going to be unbeatable because they had three of the best players in the league on one team. This Super Team was reminiscent of the Chicago Bulls in the 90’s when Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman combined to bring the entire NBA to its knees for three straight years. With a team like this, the NBA Championship was a shoe in for Lebron, right?

Wrong! And here’s where my theory comes in. I subscribe to the Herb Brooks way of thinking. Having the “best” players is not a guarantee for victory. I believe that having the “right” players in the “right” positions is the better recipe for victory. You see, the Chicago Bulls did it better in the 90s. Sure, the Jordan/Pippen/Rodman combo dominated in a multiple of ways on both ends of the court; but when you added Ron Harper and Luc Longley to the starting lineup, and Steve Kerr and Tony Kukoc coming off the bench, you had a nearly unbeatable team. The Bulls won not just because of their top 3 superstars. They won because they had the right players doing everything needed to be done on the court. Am I making sense? My point is (and I can be completely wrong) that Lebron James and the Miami Heat banked on its 3 superstars being the key ingredients to win the Championship this year. Unfortunately for them, the Heat had the “best” players, and the Mavericks had the “right” players.

How does this remind me of the corporate world? Personally, when I am working with multiple individuals, I am not looking to be in a group where everyone is the “best” at the same thing. Why you ask? If everyone in the group is the “best” at the same thing, what happens when you come across an issue which no one in the group is familiar? Something is lacking. In my experience, the “right” group is one composed of diverse individuals that bring their special talents to the table. This mix ensures that all bases are covered by someone who specializes in a particular area. Where one is weak, another is strong. It makes for a winning team. It also creates a sense of reliance on another’s talent, which in turn gives that person the confidence in knowing that their talents are appreciated. Overall, the Herb Brooks model creates a more efficient and successful work environment.

This comparison may be a little farfetched for some, but it makes perfect sense to me. The “best” is not synonymous with instant success, which is a lesson I learned long before last night’s game. Again, this is just my opinion. What’s yours?
By the way, Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks!


Just One Donna said...

I totally agree with the concept that "right" trumps "best" in the corporate world. I have no experience with sports but assume it is true there as well. :)

Tracie said...

I enjoyed this article, you connected the dots beautifully. Especially for this anti-NBA woman.

I'm not in corporate and have never wanted to be. I don't believe I can be called a 'professional' in the way that you apply the term here. I guess I can identify more with the creative personality, I work in community health, I blog, I do workshops for homeless families, etc. But the Herb Brooks model can work well even where I am.

Many of my coworkers try to apply a 'corporate professional I'm the best and brightest' attitude to working with at risk young women. They graduated from the 'right' schools, but took this job because they needed to pay rent. But in this arena, it's about the 'right' people.

kita said...

I so love this post. I agree it takes the right people to win in any situation.

Alovelydai said...

I totally agree!

Sheedia @ InspirU CooCoo said...

Whenever I hear a team is acquiring all the stars I start to worry. Being a fan of the Lakers for years now, I know how harmful that can become to a team.

Something else came to mind when reading the Herb Brooks theory. Character and maturity are also key ingredients to a team's success. Everyone should not only be able to fit in with each other on a professional level, they should also be able to get along with each other. Now I don't have proof to say that this is what was lacking in the Heat team. Nonetheless this is very much true for a lot of teams.

Tracie said...

I agree Sheedia,

Gathering the best and brightest means nothing if they don't work well together. Better to have a room full of unknowns who are willing to do what it takes to achieve their first win together.

TheProDiva said...

I think you ladies all got my point!

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