July 24, 2015 by
Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team into a team where everyone plays their role.
The greatest sports coaches have the power to inspire their athletes to be better than they’ve ever been and change the whole dynamic of a team. We’ve all seen what an amazing leader can do for an otherwise scrappy team, and here are just a few of the most remarkable examples of the last decade.
Build Teams with Great Players, Not One Great Player
Jill Ellis experienced incredible training as a young coach at UCLA when she was mentored by John Wooden. Now she is the manager of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team.
Ellis creates a clear team concept and teaches each player their role within it. At her father’s suggestion, she learned communication outside her sport. For a while, she was a technical writer. Now she can explain her team vision and help her players to be their best within it. Her background was able to prepare her for seeing a big picture and what each part needs to do to organize a working machine.
Leadership by Listening
Steve Kerr was the first rookie head coach in the NBA to win the championship since 1982. The Golden State Warriors were a team of current and future all-stars, but they needed someone who could pull all the pieces together.
Kerr created a system based on the strengths of his players to maximize the team’s performance. He also empowered his coaching staff to share their ideas and listened to everyone. Most significantly, in the NBA Finals, an assistant coach wanted to change the starting line-up to help them deal with the previously unstoppable LeBron James. Kerr accepted and implemented the idea. Not only did it work, Kerr publicly identified his assistant as the source of the idea. This is one example out of dozens of Kerr giving credit to others for the team’s success.
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January 31, 2015 by
At the halfway point of the 2014-2015 NBA season the league seems to be turned upside down.
The best records in the league are held by the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, two teams with marginal pedigrees.
The Warriors last hoisted the NBA championship trophy 40 years ago when Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes led the way.
The last championship won by the Hawks was in 1958 when the team was based in St. Louis and Bob Pettit was the quintessential NBA star.
Conversely, two teams with nearly half of the titles in NBA history between them, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, are out of contention and already looking at next season.
According to top sports betting sites listed at www.sportsbettingacumen.com, the Warriors and Hawks are now among the favorites to win the NBA title.
However, given that neither team has a great track record of playoff performance, it is hard to slot them in as the likely finalists just yet.
Even with a 36-8 mark to start the season and two legitimate stars in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it will be tough for the Warriors to make it out of the tough Western Conference. With seven teams in the conference already with 30 victories, the Phoenix Suns close behind (28 wins) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (23-23) now healthy and likely to push for a spot in the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →
January 11, 2015 by
Michael Carter-Williams is a double-double threat every night, but must improve his shooting consistency if he wants to be an NBA star .
Philadelphia 76ers’ owner Josh Harris changed the franchise forever on May 14th, 2013. That was the day he hired Sam Hinkie to be the team’s general manager. It didn’t take long for Hinkie to make a name for himself. His first bold move took place on draft day. He traded the only all-star on the team, Jrue Holiday, to the New Orleans Pelicans for a top-five protected first round draft pick for the next year and Nerlens Noel. Noel was in the mix to go number one overall before tearing his ACL during the college basketball season. Later in the draft, the Sixers used the eleventh pick to select point guard Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse University.
The 2013 76ers were just as bad as advertised under first year head coach Brett Brown. Philadelphia actually shocked the world, winning the team’s first three games, what were the odds of that? but it was all downhill from there. During the season, the 76ers tied the NBA record for most consecutive losses (26). Hinkie was busy on the day of the trade deadline. Center Spencer Hawes was sent to Cleveland, while center Lavoy Allen and guard Evan Turner were dealt to Indiana. Philadelphia received a couple players and draft picks in return. The 76ers finished the season 19-63 for the second worst record in the league.
The 2014 draft was vital for Sam Hinkie and the organization. The Sixers selected Kansas freshman Joel Embiid third overall. Embiid, a 7 foot Cameroon native, was expected to be the top pick before injuries ended his only season as a Jayhawk. Many analysts have called him a franchise changer, and he’s been compared to Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon. He has not played a game this season and in all likelihood, won’t. It’s the same route Noel took last year. With the Pelicans pick from the Holiday deal, they selected Elfrid Payton tenth overall. Philly immediately traded Payton to the Magic for their selection (which was two picks later) Dario Saric. Saric is only 20 years old and is currently playing in Turkey. He’s under contract for the next two seasons in Turkey. Saric has the skill set of a point guard even though he’s 6 foot 10. He’s able to push the ball in transition and is very versatile. Saric won Euroleague MVP for the month of November. He will be able to join the Sixers in 2016. In the second round of the draft the 76ers selected K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, and Jordan McRae (once they made some trades). Read the rest of this entry →
December 25, 2014 by
The NBA has used Christmas Day games as an opportunity to unveil new fashion. No telling what LeBron will be wearing this year.
Christmas is the time of the year when most people’s thoughts have turned to celebration and relaxation with family and friends. For many professional athletes, however, it marks the busiest period of the year.
Festive fixtures are a much-loved part of the sporting calendar in the UK. The English Premier League is the highest profile soccer tournament not to take a break over the holidays—often causing consternation among the foreign players and managers that ply their trade in the competition, who are not used to the rash of matches. Spain, Germany, Italy, France and others all shut down their soccer leagues for a week or so.
But Christmas sport regularly offers wonderful entertainment for spectators and television viewers.
Crunch fixtures occurred over the holidays in both the NHL and NFL, and College Football’s schedule was also packed. However, it is the NBA in particular which provided a visual feast for sports fans in 2014, with no less than FIVE matches televised live on Christmas Day.
Cleveland Cavaliers matchup with Miami Heat took headline status, with the intrigue of former Heat favorite LeBron James returning to Miami in his second stint for the Cavaliers. The watching TV millions would have been expecting to enjoy the best match of the day as they celebrate the season of goodwill.
The Christmas Day Basketball match tradition began in 1947 when the, now defunct, Providence Steamrollers lost 89-75 to the New York Knicks. It was probably in 2004, though, when Christmas Day was chosen as the showcase day for the NBA’s best fixtures. Read the rest of this entry →
November 26, 2014 by
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s famous sky hook was nearly impossible to stop.
If you had to pick out one basketball star that deserves the title of the greatest player of all time – then the name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is definitely on the shortlist.
Once in a while, there are players in all kinds of different sports who just seem to re-write the way the game is played – along with the record books – and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was most certainly such a player.
One might say the same about the great Pele or perhaps Diego Maradona in the world of soccer, for example – or perhaps Jack Nicklaus or maybe even Tiger Woods in golf. And in tennis both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been re-writing the record books over the last decade between them. These are all players and sportsmen who learn their trade in the same way as everyone else trying to make it in their chosen sport – then somehow do something different again. It’s not just about being better – it’s about doing things differently than anyone else ever has done before, and taking things to a whole new level.
Perhaps the most obvious aspect of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s game that no-one else had really done was that trademark skyhook shot that punished so many opponents so badly during the player’s 20 year basketball career.
But it was more than that; he played with sublimity – with an elegance and style that few other players have ever been able to match, if any.
Another of his trademarks was to play down low. He looked like he was hunting as he crouched with the ball, looking up from underneath his spectacles that he usually played in – and he was completely single-minded in achieving what he was setting out to do; score points and win games. But he did it all with grace and style and a wonderful fluidity of movement that is the hallmark of so many great players in different sports. It’s rather like watching someone doing exactly what they were born to do – moving with grace and speed like a predatory big cat in a way that is far more about instinct than it is about conscious thought.
By the time Abdul-Jabbar decided to quit basketball in 1989 at the grand old age of 42, no NBA basketball player had ever scored as many points or been awarded as many ‘Most Valuable Player’ awards, or blocked more shots. He had even played in more All-Star Games and notched up more seasons than any other player in NBA history. So when we say that he re-wrote the record books, this is no throwaway sycophancy from an appreciative audience of basketball fans – it is, quite simply, a literal truth. Read the rest of this entry →
June 15, 2014 by
The O.J. Simpson White Bronco chase on June 17, 1994 captivated a nation though it didn’t break any speed records.
This past Thursday sports broadcasters spent a great deal of time discussing what a great sports day it was with the start of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, World Cup Soccer Championships and the fourth game of the NBA Finals. Certainly an exciting day for sports fans and broadcasters alike, but nothing like a day whose twentieth anniversary we celebrate this week.
The primary sports elements on June 17, 1994 were basically the same as twenty years later, but the story lines in some cases were a bit more compelling. Then, of course, what makes that particular day unlike any other sports day was an un-scripted and un-expected event that transcended sports and captured the attention of the entire country.
Even though the United States wasn’t playing until the next day, June 17th was the most important day to that point in U.S. Soccer history with the opening ceremonies of the first World Cup ever held in the United States. President Bill Clinton, Diana Ross, Opera Winfrey and Daryl Hall were among those who participated in the festivities at Soldier Field in Chicago.
While many hoped the World Cup would usher a new era of interest for soccer in America, half a country away in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, the second round of the U.S. Golf Open included the end of an era for an American sports treasure.
Playing in the U.S. Open for the final time, Pennsylvania native Arnold Palmer said goodbye to the national stage on that Friday afternoon by shooting a final round 81 to finish 16 stokes over par. The 1960 U.S. Open Champion had played his first Open at Oakmont in 1953 and on that Friday afternoon 41 years later had an emotional conclusion to his magical career. Read the rest of this entry →