Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heat vs. Mavs - Who Will Lead their Team to the Championship?

If you are a student of leadership or effective organizations, you should watch the NBA finals.  There are great examples and important questions on display in a Championship series.  It's old school reality TV; it's very real and it's very important to these organizations for different reasons.  Here's the cliffs note version for the non-sports fans.

The Miami Heat lured two superstar players to their organization last summer - Lebron James and Chris Bosh.  James is considered the most physically gifted player in the sport.  The Heat were so giddy with their achievement, the city had a pep rally where the players predicted a dynasty that would produce multiple championships.  After a slow start in which their coach and players figured out how to play effectively together, the Heat ascended to the NBA Finals and looked like the team to beat.

The Dallas Mavericks have been an effective regular season team for years but have faltered in the playoffs.  Their brash owner Mark Cuban has been equally supportive and frustrated by his group of talented underachievers.  The team was considered "too soft". That is to say, the team did not display the mental and physical toughness required to play defense, rebound, or fight back from behind - all requirements for basketball champions.

The series is now tied 2-2.  In brief -

Miami has been carried by the leadership of their homegrown superstar Dwayne Wade.  He has led by example throughout the series.  The rest of his team - including Lebron James - have not supported Wade's efforts.  They have a more talented core but lack depth. 

The Mavericks have played like a team, a team determined to win.  This morning the ESPN experts said the Mavs have displayed a new "heart, resolve and mental toughness that has been missing in the past".  The team is doing the essentials well - rebounding, playing tough team defense, playing with intensity, and sharing the ball.  Most importantly, they are staying, closing, and winning in the end.

There are classic questions to be answered for these two organizations which should be lessons for us all.

Are a few superstars better than a whole team?

What happens when one of your superstars can't perform at the highest levels?

Can the Heat make adjustments that will change the team's results in the series?

Who will go down in history as the catalyst for their championship team - Dirk or Jason Kidd for the Mavericks or Dwayne Wade or Lebron James for the Heat?

What do you think?  I say the Mavs will win in seven games.

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