Help Your Team Win

From the Editor: HoopChalk staff writer Harri Mannonen has written a study book called The Basics. It includes 75 compact chapters filled with essential information for basketball players.

The business idea is that The Basics may be personalized to meet the needs of an organization or a team. In other words, the client may choose which chapters are included (at the moment, there are about a hundred readily available). Also, Harri is available to write new chapters if need be.

The first Finnish-speaking edition of The Basics was published on Thursday September 25. The client was Loimaan Korikonkarit, a Finnish basketball club with both junior and professional teams. This is the first chapter of the book in English.

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Help Your Team Win

What is your main job as a basketball player?

The answer is simple. Because basketball is a team sport, you must do all you can to help your team win.

“Help your team win” may sound like a simple principle. Yet a lot of players do not follow it. Their main goal may be to score a lot of points themselves. Or to do something spectacular. Or to avoid being ridiculed.

Yet in the end the best players are the best for one reason, and for one reason only: They are the best at helping their teams win. If you concentrate solely on that goal, you’re on the right track.

The principle “Help Your Team Win” is the proper means to assess your improvement as a player. The better you can help your team win, the better a player you have become.

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Really basic stuff, isn’t it?

Or on second thought, is it really?

It seems to me that a lot basketball people view the game from a disturbingly individualistic point of view. This is especially true regarding the NBA.

Commonly, NBA basketball is not seen as a collectivistic effort it is, but rather as a stage where brilliant individuals showcase their talent. Once one of these brilliant individuals gets tired of losing and actually does his best to help the win, he is praised for sacrificing his game.

Think about it: isn’t it the general opinion that Michael Jordan nobly sacrificed his game when he settled for scoring less and passing more? I.e. when he enabled Bulls to win all those championships – while still playing de facto individualistically but less so.

Phil Jackson won all those championship rings by getting his superstars to play – not all the way collectivistically, but less individualistically. Isn’t it kind of embarrassing to the rest of the NBA that this ability played a big part in making Jackson possibly the greatest coach in the league history?

Shouldn’t collectivistic play be the default setting – not a sacrifice or an achievement to be celebrated?

If you watch NBA from the standpoint of “Help Your Team Win”, don’t a lot of players seem to have misunderstood their job? Carmelo Anthony? Josh Smith? Kyrie Irving? And what does Kobe Bryant’s game look like in this kind of light?

Why do fans often celebrate individualistic players? Why do owners often reward those players with huge salaries? Why is the cult of individualism so widely accepted within a team sport?

Well, it’s not all that bad. San Antonio Spurs do their best to help their team win. And win they do. And an odd bunch are they considered.

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