The Mavericks are one of only three teams in the history of the NBA to have 11 consecutive 50 win seasons. So we know from their record that they’ve been practicing synergy like few teams ever have! Synergy is defined by Dr. Stephen R. Covey as, “one plus one equaling three or more.” The selfless play of the Mavericks certainly brought Dr. Covey’s definition to life. It’s an interesting tidbit to realize that only Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry remained from the team that lost to the Heat in the 2006 championship! Since 2006, these guys have played like a team. They never stopped believing in themselves and their ability to make it happen, often coming from behind in the 4th quarter. Let's compare the Mavericks to the Heat at that time. Dirk Nowitzki was the only real superstar on the Maverick roster.
Now don't get me wrong, Jason Kidd was a fantastic player, but in his 39th year, even his teammates called him the “Fossil.” The star-studded Heat had superstars to spare: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. While these three “I’s” had their moments, they were unable to selflessly play as a team enough to be victorious. These three supposedly were unbeatable. Flash back to the 1980 Olympic hockey victory of the USA over Russia, portrayed in the movie “Miracle.” Coach Herb Brooks was looking for the ‘right players’ not necessarily the ‘best players’ – after all, according to the media, the best players already played for the Heat.
Rick Carlisle (the Mav's head coach - and now an elite member of a team of 10 who have NBA rings as both players and coaches) said, "This is a true team, this is an old bunch. We don’t run fast or jump high. These guys had each other’s backs. We played the right way.’’
Tyson Chandler, the Mav's 7’1” reserve center said, “We’re a team with players that have been bounced around, traded, people forgot about us. And we came together and we won a title.” Maverick’s general manager, Donnie Nelson, called his roster the “cast-offs!” The superstars of the Heat were only a warm flicker compared to the synergistic selflessness of the Mavericks. John Wooden said, “A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group for the good of the group, that’s teamwork.”
Working with the Heat following this disappointing loss, Pat Riley was able to enhance the teamwork aspect of his top three players, resulting in the 2012 NBA Championship victory for the Miami Heat.
What’s the lesson for us? We can be extraordinary (ordinary + do a little extra). Just like the Mavericks, we just need to forget who gets the credit, and do a little bit extra all the time. We don’t have to be individual superstars, but we can all contribute to making our team great! The more synergistic we become, the better things will be for us.