In Bill Simmons’ book “The Book of Basketball” he talks about “The Secret”. The Secret refers to an almost mythical understanding of winning in basketball. In the book Bill Walton refers to it as “The Choice”. The Secret, the Choice, whatever you want to call it is simply this: The players, coaches, trainers, and everyone on the team make the decision to sacrifice personal ambitions for the greater good of the team. This could mean a shy, introverted, talented player having to step up and be the star. Or, it could mean a player who could score 18 per game on another team, having to be the defensive stopper and only score 9 per game. Whatever it is, you have to swallow your sense of self for a sense of team.
This is not an easy task. Basketball is game driven by statistics. From the time kids turn 5 and pick-up an xbox controller, stats are tracked and analyzed. Box scores are in every paper and on every website. The first thing people ask after a game, “How many points did you score?” People also like attention, they like seeing themselves in newspapers, on the news, in highlights. The higher level you move to, the harder it is for a team to embrace the Secret. Think about it, you go from competing for a starting spot to competing for a college scholarship, to get drafted, an all-start spot. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in it.
If you look at some of the great players, it takes them awhile (sometimes until after it is too late) to embrace “The Secret”. Kobe & Michael didn’t trust their teammates early on, but once they embraced the team, and did what was right for the team…titles came.
Great coaches and great leaders (Phil Jackson, Bill Russell, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Coach K) are able to help their teams accept “The Secret” and make “The Choice” for the greater good of the team. This is the key to winning in basketball at any level!
How can you do the same? How can you embrace the secret? Can you accept your role? How can you get your players or teammates to do embrace “the secret”?