“I’d rather have a player who plays so passionately that I need to calm him down some times than a player I have to motivate to have them give maximum effort” –Hubie Brown, NBA analyst
As I was watching an Oklahoma City Thunder versus Minnesota Timberwolves game this past weekend, one of the commentators asked Hubie Brown about the recent situation with the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook. Basically, Westbrook had to be taken to the locker room for a few minutes mid-game to cool his emotions. Now I don’t normally put a lot of stock in commentators’ or analysts’ “insights” during the game, but I really thought that Hubie Brown’s reaction to the question was particularly astute and hit upon a key element of sports (and any endeavor really).
Why? Well, let’s first start with a comparison of two hypothetical players, Player A and Player B. Player A is passionate like Russell Westbrook. He drips with it every minute of every game he plays. Sometimes he can get out of control, even a little too fired up (and has to go to the locker room to cool off), but one thing you can absolutely count on day in and day out is that Player A will give maximum effort on every play. And he does this purely because he is whole-heartedly devoted to the game of basketball (his passion) and he doesn’t know how else to play. What about Player B? Well, Player B is also young and also very talented. He is milder in temperament, even shy or aloof, but he has always stayed out of any type of confrontation. He keeps to himself most of the time and always shows up to practice and games. However, his effort seems to vary week to week, even game to game. He occasionally needs someone (coach, teammate, family) to “re-inspire” him to play with 100% effort, to leave it all on the floor each game. But even that inspiration never seems to last and you never really know what kind of effort you’ll get each night. Now, if you were looking to build and coach a championship team, which player would you choose? Wouldn’t you prefer to work with Player A than Player B? Wouldn’t you want to help a player focus their passion rather than always having to help them find it?
And that is exactly it. It’s all about passion. Passion is what Hubie Brown is hitting upon in his response. He is talking about wearing your “heart on your sleeve” each time you play and how this quality relates to success on the court. As a seasoned coach and NBA analyst, Brown knows very well that passion cannot be taught. It can’t be practiced nor can it be coached. Passion either exists or it doesn’t and it is up to each person to decide when, where and how they unleash it. Passion is the energy source for those players that take their game “to another level” or have “another gear.” When passion collides with skill, toughness and competitiveness, the result is often a recipe for greatness. This does not mean, however, that with passion leads to inevitable success. Or that passion comes without strings attached. Because passion without reason can lead to unsportsmanlike (or immoral) conduct. Passion without direction can lead to confusion, frustration or even giving up. And passion expressed only through anger can be dangerous and reckless. What does it mean then? It does mean that focused and controlled passion is a critical and required ingredient for anyone trying to become great at what they do, be it a great basketball player, a great coach, a great teammate or even just a great leader. Keep that in mind as you think about your next game, your next day at work or even your career.
Want more motivation? Well, check out one of last week’s tracks from The Drive Soundtrack.
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