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It takes a team…

Basketball is a beautiful game. When played well, five players move and think as a single hive-mind in real time. Despite having its share of big talent and marque players, it is a team sport down to the last player on every bench.

Stylized basketball

No one knew the importance of teamwork better than Dean Smith, the legendary coach of the North Carolina Tarheels for 36 years. There are many reasons why his legend lives on beyond his coaching days of the 60’s and 70’s, but the following tidbit caught my eye during the many tributes that surfaced following his passing in 2015.

Coach Smith had a rule that when you scored a basket you pointed to the person who passed you the ball.

Think about this for a moment. In the glory of a successful basket — as you run back along the court with the thunder of the applause ringing in your ears — you share the win by pointing at the person who helped make it possible. I can’t think of a better way of showing that winning is a team effort.

Smith’s philosophy was simple and short: “Play hard; play together; play smart.”


Originally published February 15, 2015, after the passing of Dean Smith. Updated January 14, 2020.

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Heather Hollick has been helping others become better leaders and craft more meaningful careers for more than 25 years. Her experience spans both business and technology, operations and organizational development. Oh, and she was born in Canada, so she can't help but be helpful. 😉

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