Pat Riley

In Riley’s words, “the hardest thing to do as a coach or as a manager or as a president is to get players to do the things they don’t want to do in order to achieve what they want. And the objective of the player and his agent is for us to do everything that we don’t want to do to help him. And this is great. Because what he talks about is there must be a tension, a nice tension that’s ongoing that doesn’t create crisis but where you can collaborate with both sides….Because that’s what creates an edge.”

Riley conceded that, as a driver and motivator, he has created a lot of tension with players, but believes that while some disliked him, and maybe “still can’t get over getting yelled at,” he feels great respect from plenty of others.

“I think the only thing a coach would want from his players is that when you see them years later, you give each other a hug,” Riley said, before breaking into laughter. “Whatever happened between you and me, it was all for the wonderful cause of winning. That we both had the burning desire to do.”

There is so much great stuff in here from Pat Riley:

Dynamic Leadership Academy – June 8th-9th

For the third year we will be running the Dynamic Leadership Academy in Providence, RI at Rhode Island College.  The dates will be June 8th and 9th.

The Leadership Academy is an interactive leadership seminar featuring guest speakers that include high level coaches, athletic directors, business executives and media members, all sharing their unique takes on leadership.  It’s a great opportunity for young leaders and coaches to hear an uncommon approach to leadership and start to form their own personal leadership philosophy.

You can learn more about the Leadership Academy and sign up online at this link:

Six Habits of Confident People

From Stephanie Vozza,  Thanks to Buzz Williams for passing this along.

When my son was 4, he wore a superhero cape.  All of the time.  I vividly remember a trip to Home Depot when he had dressed himself in shorts and a shirt, cowboy boots, swim goggles, gardening gloves, and the cape.  Even though he attracted plenty of stares, he walked through the store very sure of himself and his wardrobe choice.

Many of us outgrow our childhood ideals, but why is it we also often leave behind the sense of confidence that accompanied them?

Here are the six habits confident people share:

1. They push themselves outside of their comfort zone.

Nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure.  Confident people start small and continue to take action until they become more comfortable with the risk.

2. They view failure as information.

Confident people are not immune to failure; instead of letting it stop them, they view it as an information-gathering session.  Confident people thank the experience for the lesson, and then they course-correct.

3. They watch their language.

Confident people don’t speak badly about themselves.  They question their self-doubts.

4. They take responsibility.

Instead of feeling like a victim of their circumstances, confident people take ownership of their situation and do something about it.

5. They seek out inspiration and advice.

“If you’re confident then you don’t feel weird about showing your vulnerability and opening yourself up to learning from someone else,” says Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.

6. They use power positions.

Sitting up straight gives you a short-term confidence boost.  Keep your abs and chin up.  Also try nodding your head.  “You feel more confident as you talk when you do it – and you’re sending a subconscious signal that makes others agree with you,” say Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, coauthors of The Confidence Code.

Coach of the Year

I’ve always had a simple philosophy when it comes to voting for coach of the year awards.  Start at the top of the standings and work your way down.  It’s pretty easy in my book.  Barring some really strange or difficult circumstances, the guy who did the best job coaching is the guy who’s team won the most games.  Every year I’ve voted for that award I’ve voted for the coach in my league who won the league, and I’ve listed the rest of the guys in order of finish.

In college I really don’t know how you argue with it.  A big part of the job is recruiting the best players.  So to claim a guy didn’t do a great job coaching because he just had a lot of talent is a contradiction.  You recruit the talent.  Sure, some jobs are harder than others, but when dealing with league COTY awards you are generally on the same level.  The hardest thing to do in college sports is to win a regular season title.  The guy who does that is my coach of the year.

In the NBA, I understand how you can make a different argument, even though it still doesn’t make much sense to me.  Yes, certain teams have the advantage of attracting the best free agents, and that’s not really a product of coaching.  Erik Spoelstra was pretty fortunate that Lebron decided to move to Miami for four years.  I get that.  But the lack of credit we give to coaches who coach talent is still amazing to me.  People don’t understand how hard it is to coach great talent, to keep the egos in check, to handle the pressure, to get the most out of everyone even when guys have to sacrifice their game and their numbers for the good of the team.  Erik Spoelstra did a tremendous job coaching that team for 4 years.  Coaching talent is hard.  We take it for granted way too often.

Brad Stevens did a tremendous job with the Celtics this year.  I think he’s a terrific coach.  They were trying not to make the playoffs, and he made the playoffs anyway.  But NBA Coach of the Year?  C’mon.  Are we really going to compare winning 40 games in what was an awful Eastern Conference with winning 67 games in arguably the best conference in the history of the NBA?  Or to the guy who won 60 games in the same conference?  Think about that for a second.  I get that you want to give Brad Stevens credit for doing a great job coaching.  Well deserved.  But talk about him for coach of the year in the league is nonsense.

Phil Jackson won NBA Coach of the Year exactly one time.  Don Nelson won it 3 times.  Think about that for more than a second.  Doc Rivers won the award when he went 41-41 with the Magic.  In a year they didn’t make the playoffs.  That same year the Lakers went 67-15.  And I’m pretty sure they had a coach.  16 teams in the NBA won more games than the Magic did that year.  That’s ridiculous.

For some reason we love to find the guy who we think has an underdog team, who exceeds expectations by a bit and anoint him as the best coach in the league.  We’ve lost all perspective on how hard it is to actually win, no matter how much talent you have.  When I see it in college it makes me shake my head.  We love that team that no one expected to be good, that we don’t think has any players, that finishes just over .500 in their league.  Trust me, it is a lot harder to win your league outright with the best players than it is to finish 4th in your league with the 7th best team.  A lot harder.

Nothing against Mike Budenholzer, who did a great job, or Brad Stevens or any of the other coaches in the NBA.  But Steve Kerr should be the NBA Coach of the Year, and it really shouldn’t be much of a discussion.

I have no idea why we’ve gotten away from rewarding the coach who’s actually done the best job, and earned something that is one of the toughest things to earn in sports – the best record over a full season.

Relationship with the Head Coach

My relationship with my athletic director is extremely important to me.  When you are running a basketball program you know that the AD’s support is crucial, and he is the decision maker in the athletic department.  I’m lucky to have a great relationship with my AD, and his vision for our basketball program and the support to build it the right way is essential for us.  He is clearly the most important person I work with, because he is the one making the final call on all decisions that will affect us.

When you take any job, the most important relationship you have is the one with your boss.  Whoever has the final say on major decisions should be the most important person to you.  You have to have a relationship with them, and although you don’t always have to agree with them you certainly have to build trust with them.  Before taking any position, you want to know he approach of the person or people making the key decisions.  Who wants to work for someone they don’t know very well – someone they don’t know how they’ll handle tough decisions?

Recruiting is no different.  As the head coach, it’s crucial for me to develop a relationship with my players.  This starts in the recruiting process.  They have to know they can trust me, and know that I have their best interest in mind.  Just as important, I have to know I can trust them.  I have to push them to be great, to extend their limits – and how can I do that if I don’t have a relationship with them?  The relationship I develop with my payers is essential.

It should be just as important to the players.  Making a decision as important as choosing a college – especially when you have a chance to play a college sport – you want to really know the person making the important decisions.  You want to know what type of leader that person is, what practices will be like, how they are going to communicate with you, and what standards they want you to live up to.  The person making the final call – in this case the head coach – is the guy you want to get to know the best.  Just like any other important choice you will make in life, you want to have the best relationship possible with the person making the key decisions.  You want to know what your getting into.  Your goal as a recruit should be to get to know the head coach.  If you don’t, you really don’t know the person making the important decisions in your athletic life for the next four years.

As a player the most important relationship you will have athletically is with your head coach.  You may have a great connection with the assistant coach who is recruiting you, but ultimately he’s not making the key decisions.  It’s my relationship, as the head coach, with my players that allows us to get the most out of each other.  It’s the key relationship for any player, and for the head coach.

Dynamic Leadership Academy

We will once again be hosting the Dynamic Leadership Academy at Rhode Island College in Providence, RI this June.  The dates will be June 8th and 9th.

The DLA is an interactive, professional development seminar on leadership for young leaders and coaches.   Read about the DLA here:

More details on this year’s event will follow.