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Championship Lessons From Tim, Pop and the Spurs

3. We, not me. It’s all about teamwork.

If you’re a fan of good basketball (like me), then you can’t help but love and appreciate how the Spurs play the game. They are the most unselfish team in the league.

They play team ball and constantly encourage one another. Their players are unselfish and teachable. They are passionate and engaged whether on the court or on the bench. When something good happens on the court, you can see the entire bench cheering the players on.

Lebron James played a good game each night, but it wasn’t enough. He was one man playing a united team that was functioning on all cylinders.

This philosophy of team ball and unselfish play comes straight from future Hall of Fame Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “Pop” is a great example of an excellent leader who has built something special that will go down in history.

To see a short sample of their teamwork and the amount of passes that they do before taking a shot, take a look at this video.

4. Be healthy. Promote balance.

The Spurs are the most balanced team in the NBA. They are as good defensively as they are offensively. They shut down Lebron and the very talented Heat team for most of the Finals.

They are also a team with depth—having their bench lead the league in scoring. Competence exists at all levels of their team (whether or not they’re coming off the bench).

Do you have depth in your organization? Do you have balance?

5. Be in it for the long-term. Longevity is key.

Coach Popovich is the longest tenured coach, not only in the NBA (18 years) but in four major sports. He has built something magnificent.

Tim Duncan has been with the Spurs for 17 years. Tim Duncan is the only player in NBA history to start for a championship team in three different decades. Let that sink in!

Duncan, Parker and Ginobili (the Spurs’ “Big Three”) have been together for over a decade. This year, they passed the “Showtime” Lakers trio of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper as the second-most durable trio in NBA history.

Too many leaders skip around. I wrote about long-term leadership in both of my leadership books. Dig your feet in, plant roots and build something to be proud of.

The Heat are great and very talented. They’ve won championships and will probably win again, but if I’m building a team, I’m going to approach it the Spurs’ way. I think if we learn from what the Spurs value and teach, there is much to be gained.

How are you building your team? What do you think we could learn from the Spurs?  

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Greg Atkinson is an author, speaker, consultant, and the Founder of the First Impressions Conference and Worship Impressions—both specializing in guest services and hospitality.