5 Things I Think About The NBA Playoffs & Leadership

As we head into the NBA Finals on Thursday, I can’t wait for this series.  There are so many historically compelling story lines.  I love the emotional intensity in which the Celtics play with and how that will contrast against the skillful poetry of the Lakers triangle offense.  As we approach the conclusion of these playoffs, it’s a good time to look back at this postseason.  Here are the five things that strike me the most.

  1. Kobe Bryant is the NBA’s best player and has become a great leader.  As he prepares to go after his 5th NBA championship, we can now with full integrity mention him in the same breath as Michael Jordan.  Bryant is clearly the emotional leader of the Lakers and his handling of the volatile Ron Artest this year has been superlative.  Also, his high number of assists (particularly against the Suns) provide measurable confirmation of making his teammates better.
  2. Options Matter.  As the Boston Celtics head into the finals, they have not had the same leading scorer in two consecutive playoff games.  This balance makes them incredibly difficult to prepare for and affords them margin for players to have a bad game or get in foul trouble.   They have great depth as was evidenced by Nate Robinson being the difference in the elimination game against the Magic. 
  3. Rajon Rondo has been the best player in the playoffs.  Even with three Hall of Famers on the court with him, it is now clear that as Rondo goes, so goes the Celtics.  You could see this coming as his assists, steals, and points were all career highs this year.  At 24 years old, he and Derrick Rose are going to have legendary battles for years to come, similar to their 1st round playoff duel in ’09.   What I like about Rondo is his aggressiveness and that he forces tempo.  When looking for a leader in your organization, two of the qualities to identify is initiative and the ability to makes things happen.
  4. The window has closed for the San Antonio Spurs.  This is one of the classiest organizations in sports with one of the classiest people, Tim Duncan.  While he has a remarkably docile personality, I want to remind every one of the greatness of Duncan, just in case you may have missed it.  As the 1st pick in the ’97 draft, Duncan has scored over 20,000 points, grabbed over 11,000 rebounds, blocked over 2,000 shots, was the ’98 Rookie of the Year, 12-time All-Star, 13-time All Defensive team, 2-time MVP, and most importantly 4-time NBA Champion.  His commitment to fundamentals has defined his understated but incredible career.  Duncan has a few years left to play but he will retire as the finest Power Forward to ever play (Karl Malone #2, Elvin Hayes #3).
  5. Mike Brown was fired after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA’s best regular season rating.  Mike Woodson was fired from the Atlanta Hawks after having the Eastern Conference’s 3rd best record and the team improving six consecutive seasons.  For certain teams in the NBA, titles are the only thing that matters.  On one level this is good.  On another level, I wonder what Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz must be thinking.  Since becoming the team’s coach in 1988, he has become the only coach in NBA history to win over 1,000 games with a single team.  And he has never won a NBA title.  I still think the Jazz made the right decision regarding their coach.  Cleveland and Atlanta made the wrong ones.  

The finals should be fantastic.  I’m looking for the Lakers to win in 7.  Rondo will continue his ascent to superstar status.  Boston’s physical frontcourt of Garnett, Perkins, and Wallace will turn several games into street fights.  The Boston bench is significantly better than the Lakers.  Artest must prove his worth against Pierce.  Bynum needs at least two quality performances.  Kobe Bryant, the game’s best player, however will prove to be the difference not just with his play, but with his leadership.  Watch who Artest hugs first.  That’s influence.


About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.


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    […] 5 Things I Think About The NBA Playoffs […]

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