One of the crucial personality and behavioral characteristics of peak performers is "unwaveringly high standards."
The Boston Celtics are the most storied and successful team in NBA history. Banners hang from the rafters in their new arena depicting their past glory and multiple championships.
In 2007, Boston Celtics went 24-58, easily missing the playoffs. Included in this horrible season was an 18-game losing streak.
One year later, the Celtics began the 2007-2008 season with a 30-4 record, a team record, and the fourth best start in NBA history. The season end with the Celtics taking the NBA championship home with them.
Danny Ainge, the Boston Celtics' general manager acquired Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics and eight-time NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves. These acquisitions, designed to instantly turnaround and re-invent a stagnant franchise, have been celebrated for fast results and a completely different team climate.
The team appeared to have a renewed focus and a sense of pride not existent in recent years in Boston. What could be the reason? Many think it is Kevin Garnett.
Kevin Garnett Getting Ready to Do Battle
"KG is unique in that regard. It's important to his game to get himself pumped up, to make sure when he steps on the court that it is the most important thing in his life for 48 minutes. He might be the best at it.
"Maybe it's a function of my age, but I kind of like it. Amusing isn't the right word, because that's too flippant. More like intriguing, or interesting. Any coach would love a player as focused as Kevin."
--San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, on how Kevin Garnett gets himself ready for games.
The Difference in the Boston Celtics: KG's Leadership
"This is my seventh year in the NBA. I've been to the finals twice, and those teams were great. But they were not like this team. And the reason why is Kevin Garnett.
"The media perception about Garnett is real. When Kevin walks into the facility and the weight room, he jokes around and makes fun of guys. But then about 15 minutes before practice, it's all focus. It's all work."
"If he is not clear about something, we don't move on until we are all clear. He solves a lot of problems. I mean, I've played with good players. I played with Jason Kidd, and Kidd is an incredible gamer. But he was never as demanding of his teammates the way Kevin is. Not half as much. Not a quarter as much."
"The impact of one person can be immense. It's much larger than in any other sport. So when you add Kevin Garnett, the defensive intelligence he brings is huge. It's not just that he's adding 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. There are other guys who can get you 20 and 10 who are not the player that he is. He demands a different level of focus from everybody."
--Brian Scalabrine, veteran NBA forward who played on the 2006-2007 Celtic team.
Taken from PLAY Magazine, March 2008.
Can High Standards Affect A Team's Culture?: The KG Effect
"The whole face of the Celtics turned around when the trade happened with this guy. Everyone talks about MVP, and they talk about numbers, but this guy has changed the whole culture around here."
--Paul Pierce, veteran Boston Celtic all-star.
from ESPN.com, 3/27/08
"When the team is elevated, the individual is elevated; when the team is diminished, the individual is diminished."
"The strength of a team is its players; the strength of the players is the team."
Ubuntu is an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origin in the Bantu languages of Southern Africa. Ubuntu is seen as a traditional African concept.
Ubuntu was introduced to the Boston Celtics by head coach Doc Rivers. The Celtics have chanted "ubuntu" when breaking a huddle since the start of the 2007-2008 season. It proved to be successful as Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and veteran Celtic Paul Pierce blended their talents with the other teammates to win an NBA championship. The championship was an example of great individual talent yielding to the team concept.
"A person is a person through another person. I can't be all I can be unless you are all you can be.
"There's an amazing amount of hurt that goes with that. The only way you're going to win is that you've got to open yourself up to hurt. You've got to open yourself up and go for it. You may have to pass more, you may have to set an extra pick you may have to dive on the floor for a loose ball.
"You can't do it by yourself. Individuals don't win, teams win."
Excerpts from the New York Times and Wikipedia, 10/5/2008.