Friday, November 07, 2014

LeBron James and the Flow State

During the 2011 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks, I wrote a blogpost about LeBron James suggesting that he was thinking too much:

Peak Performance: The Blog: LeBron Is Not Shrinking From the Stage, He's Think...

Bless his heart, he is doing it again with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  LeBron may be too smart for his own and the team's good. As he works to help build a winning team and a climate of success in his return to Cleveland,  he may be back to thinking too much about his role, his teammates, how to facilitate, how to fit it. Of course those issues are important, but that is the coaches' job.

Right now, LeBron is still the best individual basketball player in the world.  He is best and the team works best when LeBron lets himself be LeBron. He works very hard at his craft.  He is at his best when he lets his extreme mental and physical preparation to what it does best:  let his talent and muscle memory take over during games.  It is his teammates responsibility to also do what they do best to act and react to his lead.

Yes, it will take time to make it all fit fluidly.  This is a different team than the Miami Heat.  Their point guard, Kyrie Irving, is a young, immature, shoot first, point guard.  The team is used to losing. The team will be better in March and April than it is now.

Yes, LeBron is a thoughtful, mature, generous, gracious teammate who want to be patient with his young team.  He is also a force of nature, will, intelligence, preparation and talent.  Only he can unleash that combination and bring himself to that point where purpose and preparation equal peak performance.

At this point in his career, with this team, his most valuable leadership trait is his example as a player. He may make a very good coach in the future, but now, in Cleveland, he must lead by example. He must be willing to create that "flow state" into which all of his teammates can enter. That is what the city of Cleveland wished for. They are waiting. We all are waiting.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Kobe Bryant Reaches for Next Step in his Maturity

"Right now we've really figured out how to bond together as a group. True chemistry is built through adversity. It's tough because it could cut either way. It seems to have brought us together."
--Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, in an interview prior to last season (October 2013).

And the adversity just keeps coming.  Many people have predicted another losing season for the Los Angeles Lakers, who have lost the first five games of the 2014-2015 NBA season. Though, Bryant, their leader, returns after two injury-plagued season, the team is not expected to return to the Lakers' typical place as an elite, championship-contending playoff team. Nevertheless, despite it being early in the season, Bryant has displayed an unexpected and surprising level of maturity in his reaction to the losses.

The Lakers are losing their games by an average of almost 15 points per game. Despite averaging 27 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in five games this season, Bryant seems to realize that the Lakers need him to display a new Kobe.  The losses are frustrating; but the Lakers do not need just superstar, super-scorer Kobe.  They also need:      


“I know him and I know he’ll stay professional about it,” Clippers forward Matt Barnes, who spent two seasons with the Lakers, said of Bryant. “You always want to see someone who’s had a historical career go out in the right way, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen that way. It’s going to be a long season for him.”


“They still take his lead,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said of Bryant. “He gives that team toughness, he gives them resolve. I guarantee you, whether they play well or not, they’re not going to be a team that gives in, because Kobe never gives in.”


“You have to be able to assert yourself, especially on a team I’m playing on,” Bryant said. “I don’t want chumps and I don’t want pushovers. If you’re a chump and you’re a pushover, I will run over you. And so it’s important for them to have that toughness and to say ‘I believe in myself. I can step up and make these plays, I can perform.’ I think that’s very important.”

“Absolutely,” he said. “A lot more teaching. A lot more communication as opposed to the players we had in the past. Here it’s really kind of teaching, how to get things down, how to deal with the emotional roller coasters that take place throughout the course of games, the challenge of things and figuring things out.”


"We can't get discouraged by it," Bryant said. "It's a very long season. You just have to stay the course. Keep on looking to improve, keep on looking to get better and things will eventually break.

"You have to understand there is nothing you can do with what's transpired. You have to move on to tomorrow. Right? You have to. Kicking and screaming is not going to do anything.

"Lakers fans know it's a process. Things can turn pretty quickly. We've seen it there before. If there is anything we're relying on, we're relying on our history, what we've been able to accomplish and how quickly we are able to turn things around."


"I've enjoyed a great amount of success here. You can't just enjoy the successful times and then run away from the bad ones. No, I don't even think about [departing]. I'm a Laker."

His leadership is in his mindset and mental conditioning.  That is why he has been successful for so long.  That is why he has come back from potential career-ending injuries.  And, now, he needs to help others' mental conditioning.  He just might turn things around.  He's a Laker.      

Excerpts taken from (11/1/2014) and (11/2/2014).