More Quotes From the Basketball World
Steve Aschburner’s article on Mike Miller’s surprising drop in productivity contains a nice gem from Don Nelson:
“My first years with Nash, he wanted to be John Stockton,” Nelson said. “He wanted to get 10 points and 15 assists. I wanted him to get 20 and 10. I felt he could score 20 points a game, but it took me a year to get him to. I ended up having to get angry at him. He was getting booed and he stopped looking for his shot and the team was going poorly, and finally we just had it out after a game.
“I basically told him he had to do what I asked him to do. He had abilities he hadn’t even scratched the surface on, and he turned out to be an All-Star for me [in Dallas] and an MVP [in Phoenix]. I just didn’t want him to only pass. He was my best outside shooter and he would never take an outside shot.”
Nash averaged 7.9 and 8.6 points in his first two seasons with the Mavericks, then bumped to 15.6 in 2000-01. He was at 15.5 (2004-05) and 18.8 (2005-06) in his two NBA MVP seasons for the Suns.
“You want them to max out on their abilities,” Nelson said. “You want players to do what they do, if they’re good at it. They can work on what they’re not good at it. But each guy has his strength, and he’s got to go to that.”
I think the same is true of any successful team environment: get people to max out their abilities and let them develop and work on what they’re not good at; place people in position to succeed and you can drive the success of the individuals and also the team.