Our camp word of the day today was ATTITUDE which has many components but part of it has to do with being a good teammate. This post is about a famous player and his favorite teammate. It is from June 13, 2013.
Last week, I ran Bill Walton's tribute to John Wooden, his basketball coach at UCLA, a man many consider the greatest ever. This afternoon, I listened to a Sports Illustrated interview with Walton as he shared some thoughts on basketball and his own Hall Of Fame career. He made the point that he considered Larry Bird the best player he ever played with and Kareem Abdul Jabbar the best player he ever competed against. But what really impressed me was his statement that the best teammate he ever had was Maurice Lucas, who played with Walton on the Portland Trailblazers in the mid to late 1970's. I remember Lucas as a very good player but more of an enforcer type than someone who puts others in front of himself for the good of the group. It helps having the perspective of someone on the inside.
As I've mentioned, last week was the first of three weeks of basketball camp at Westbury Christian School with morning and afternoon sessions. As always, I'm assigned to coach girls. In the morning, our team was named the Cowgirls and the afternoon squad was the Thunder. In my career, I've coached boys in baseball and girls in basketball. This is a generalized statement that some of you will disagree with but in my experience, girls make better teammates than boys. It might be simply that girls tend to be more mature than boys. Or, it could be that girls cooperate more than compete, one reason some coaches become frustrated working with girls. My afternoon group, the Thunder, was one of the best camp teams I've had. They were outnumbered, only six girls in a camp of fifty, but they were a joy. The six are about to enter sixth, seventh, or eighth grades. They encouraged each other with a minimum of silliness. They took coaching as advice to make them better, not as criticism meant to demean. We actually won a camp-wide shooting contest, team versus team. In one of the last rounds, it was the first team to three baskets in shots from the free throw line. We made our first three attempts and sat down, the signal for finishing. The fourth shooter was Brittany who will be a WCS sixth grader this August. Miss Brittany made one of the best statements I've ever heard a youngster make:''I didn't get to shoot but it doesn't matter because we won.''
Not everybody is unselfish enough to be a good teammate and not everyone wants to be. But in that short sentence, Brittany told me everything I need to know about her athletically. If she can put the other girls ahead of herself in a thrown together for five days camp team, I have no worries she will put others before herself in things that really matter. It's a foreshadowing.
What if we all lived like that? What if employers put their employees before themselves? Or spouses put their mates first? Or coaches and teachers put their players and students first? Or politicians put their country and their fellow citizens first? Or Christians actually did as we are commanded and put the whole world first? To quote Sam Cooke-Lou Adler-Herb Alpert, 'What a wonderful world this would be!' Who do you think we should start with?
Applicable quote of the day:
"In short, he was a very, very complete player and a joy to coach, a totally dedicated team player whose only concern was winning.”
Dr. Jack Ramsey, NBA coach, assessing Bill Walton
PS: In his interview, Bill Walton asked for prayers for his old teammate, Maurice Lucas, who is battling cancer. That's a good place to start.
To hear Sam Cooke sing Wonderful World which he co-wrote with Adler and Alpert, PLEASE Click the link below:
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