Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two Teams, One Championship Formula?

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are both in the 2010 NBA finals...again. They are meeting in the finals for the 12th time in their long histories. They last met in 2008. The Lakers have been in three straight finals, while the Celtics have been in two of the last three years.

Perhaps they are there again for good reason. Perhaps it has something to do with their culture or their perspective on how to approach the game. Let's look at their championship mentalities.

Continuous Improvement Mentality

“We’re constantly thinking about what this team needs in order to win a championship.”

--Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Laker point guard, talking particularly about his long and close relationship with Laker teammate, Kobe Bryant.

A Championship Vision

“Listen, Kobe’s always been like, ‘Everybody’s in my way, I have goals, you’re either with me or not.’ From the start he had a visual of how he wanted his career to go, what he wanted to accomplish and how hard he was going to work to get it. I picked up on that early on, which is why I love the guy.”

“In reverse, as we’ve both aged, I think he respected the things I had to do to stay at a high level.”

The Celtics Stick to the Game Plan

“As players, we kind of fight a little bit,” Boston Celtics' guard Ray Allen said, discussing head coach Doc Rivers' leadership. “We need to do this, we need to do that. Doc would come into the locker room and say we’re not changing anything.”

Allen added, “He stuck to the script the whole time.”

“As a coach, I just believed that I saw what they did and what they had. We kept saying as a staff, it’s in us. We’ve got to try to get it back out of us.”

--Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics' head coach, on his trust in his team.

Reliance on Team Chemistry and Continuity

“The thing that we had more, if you look at the contenders, you look at Orlando, they changed their starting five. You look at Cleveland, they’ve got a different starting five. But the one constant Boston had as a contender, we have the same starting five that won a championship [in 2008].”

--Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics' star, who averaged 24.3 points per game in the conference finals against the Orlando Magic (including 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists in the clinching of Game Six).

Excerpts from The New York Times (May 29, 2010).

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