The Lakers’ Coaching Carousel – A Lesson in Leverage

If you’re a hoopshead like I – and several other family members on this site – am/are, then all you’ve been hearing about today is the Lakers’ decision to go with Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson to fill the coaching vacancy created by the firing of Mike Brown. But what gets me every time one of these things happens is all the impassioned conjecture and confusion over why things happened the way they did. In this case, it’s stuff like: why did the Lakers pull the trigger on D’Antoni Sunday night before Phil Jackson’s agent had a chance to start negotiations on Monday? Wasn’t this Phil’s “job to lose”? Who was whispering in Jim Buss’s ear and swaying him away from Phil?

Without needing to know the exact details of what happened or who said what (or debating over whether D’Antoni was the right fit), all this can be understood very simply if you just boil it down to one simple thing: leverage. People tend to let emotion get in the way when it comes to trying to understand these dealings, but it’s really quite common in business, and would make everything a lot more easier to accept if people just tried to see exactly where the leverage is in each situation. My family members Justin and Norith always label me as a “company man” when I go into these soliloquys, but it’s really not about choosing sides so much as it is just trying to understand the situation and why things unfold the way they do.

The 33 Strategies of Sports: Grand Strategy

You wake up one day and decide you’re going to take your goal seriously. No more bullshit. I’m going to do whatever it takes to succeed. You recruit your team, call up friends, colleagues, making your bold announcement. They’re behind you. You’re going to kick ass. You do the appropriate research on the internet. But something happens. This takes longer than you thought, since “researching the internet” unleashes a landmine of information — articles about politics, healthy living, sports, entertainment, free porn, the death of a celebrity, etc. Sometimes, you “research” for hours and realize you did not “research” anything. Additionally, the phone calls you are engaged in are no longer about your project — but the project of the person on the other end. You are now helping your colleagues with their project. Enough time goes by and you forget why you were so hyped up to begin with. You have lost track of your goal and are no longer pursuing it. You are now the cog in someone else’s goal.

You then begin the process all over again. This is the majority of how things go in life. How do you break this vicious cycle and reach your ultimate goal? Sports, perhaps the last primal act in entertainment, can be your great teacher in vanquishing this terrible habit. Welcome back to “The 33 Strategies of Sports”, a concoction of Robert Greene’s “The 33 Strategies of War” and sports history.

The 33 Strategies of Sports (Part 3)

Last week, we covered the The Guerilla War of the Mind Strategy, which teaches us that the using the same old tired methods is our downfall — as we get older, we replace habit with creativity. We see this in sports all the time. Teams that do the same thing over and over again walk into a psychological buzz saw. They must have new tricks against their opponents, who today study their methods microscopically.

Bill Bellichick became a great coach by constantly studying film of his opponents. Around 1975 for the Baltimore Colts. For $25 a week. With 16mm film. No one was doing that at the time. But young Bellichick spooled his reels over and over again with Clockwork Orange-like precision. His methods revolutionized how the game is broken down. If something works, Bill knows why and how. He has taken it apart like a watch. Now, every team in every facet of sports does this.

Any success you’ve experienced is enduring the same treatment. It will be taken apart and copied to death and beyond. We see it in movies, food, virtually any product we purchase or method that has proven to be successful. This is why everything is predictable. This is why it’s so refreshing when you do something unpredictable. Most importantly, it is you who is woken up. You will be woken up anyway. You might as well do it yourself and not allow the Dallas Mavericks to do it.

Like many of you, last Sunday I witnessed the Los Angeles Lakers in the most fightless, dismantling exhibition since Apollo Creed lost to Ivan Drago. They were manhandled by the inferior Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers’ winning ways became boring and lifeless to them. The same strategy no longer worked and even if it did, they were too bored to keep doing it. LA defeated themselves with their own malaise and predictability.