A blog about why the Lakers got swept may seem like a strange topic from a company
in the financial services industry. But you may have noticed from my earlier articles that I believe there are a lot of lessons we can learn from sports that apply to business and life in general.

As a Lakers fan, I have long admired their championship attitude and drive. As amatter of fact, as a company, we set a goal to own the Lakers by 2029! That may sound crazy to some, but this company is built on the idea of making the impossible a reality.

Here are nine things that we can learn from the Dallas Mavericks’ sweep of the Lakers this week:

1.     The Hunger Factor

A hungry wolf pack will go after prey that is larger, stronger, and with dangerous hooves and antlers. But a wolf with a full belly will sit content as a baby dear walks by. Hunger is the motivator that gets us through pain, fatigue, and a superior opponent.

When you look at the metaphorical hunger that drives people to win, we have to ask: did the Lakers have a full belly? Were they stuffed on the championship rings already on their fingers? It’s like many of us who have a decent job with benefits and we fall in the trap of getting comfortable instead of doing something extraordinary with the gifts that God has given us. The Lakers got complacent with their past successes; they forgot that the hunger for greatness can’t end after a few successful hunts.

2.     Lack of Synergy

The Lakers in the second round played more like individuals than as a team. If there is one statistic that you can look at to evaluate teamwork, it is assists. Assists represent synergy on a team; everyone gets involved. There are times during the season when a player can carry a team for a game or two; but in the playoffs, it’s a team that wins championships, not an individual player.

Now there might be some Michael Jordan fans out there tempted to say that Jordan did it on his own, but that simply isn’t true. How many times did Paxton, Kerr, Pippen, Armstrong or Kukoc come through to help win a Bull’s game? Several times, and while maybe this didn’t happen as many as times as with Jordan, the Bulls wins were a team effort. In these playoffs, Kobe tried to take over the game too many times instead of getting his team involved. It’s the Lakeshow, not the Kobeshow.

3.     A Feeling of Entitlement

Some of the younger Laker players like Andrew Bynum seem to have a feeling of entitlement. From the beginning of the season these players started off thinking that the world revolved around them and the game was theirs before they earned it.

4.     Ego Got in the Way

The Lakers went into the series thinking that no one was real competition for them. Arrogance makes you comfortable and you lose the fire that got you there.

5.     Too Good to Hustle

If there was a song that the Lakers should’ve listened to throughout the season, it’s a song by Jennifer Lopez called “Jenny from the Block.” Here’s one of the lines:

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got. I’m still Jenny from the block. I use to have a little now I have a lot. No matter where I go I know where I came from.

The song might have reminded the Lakers that, no matter how big they get, they have
to remember where they came from.  They have to recall the work and hustle it took for them to get into the NBA in the first place. The Lakers got too good to hustle.

6.     Lack of Toughness

I’ve often said that one of the most important qualities one must have is the courage to fight. I’m not referring to getting physical, but fighting for a greater cause. Once the fight
is gone, there’s a tendency to surrender.

That’s exactly what the Lakers did. They stopped fighting. They only fought when they felt like it. Imagine if our troops only fought when they felt like it. What would this nation look like? How safe would you and I feel? Greatness is about fighting whether you feel like it or not.

7.     Forgot What Their Jersey Represented

Sometimes we forget what the red, white, and blue represents. It represents freedom, courage, opportunity, values, principles, camaraderie, morals, honor, and a sense of history. We sometimes forget that the values this nation was founded on are not going to pass on to the next generation just by natural course. It’s required for our generation to teach the next generation how special our country is.

The bottom line is that the Lakers didn’t play with a sense of history and respect for the Lakers’ legacy.

8.    Lack of Responsibility

There’s a trend toward finding someone else to blame instead of taking personal responsibility. In politics, we’ve become experts at pointing fingers instead of uniting and realizing that we’re all represent the same flag. We all need to pull our own little red wagon and not count on someone else to pull it.

The players on the Lakers were constantly relying on someone else on the team to step up instead of deciding to be the winning factor as an individual.

9.    They Thought They were Bigger than the Game

No single American is bigger than the United States of America. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be an opportunity for heroes to rise up like Patton, the Wright brothers, Reagan, Lincoln, King, Graham, Washington and many more. However, not one of these icons is more important than this nation itself. The Lakers simply thought that everything revolved around them. The NBA is bigger than the Lakers. This league has a lot of history. Celtics pride, Knickerbockers, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, and many other teams have proud legacies.  These great teams, dynasties, and champions collectively make up the NBA.

I leave you with my prediction for the finals: Oklahoma City Thunder against the Miami Heat. Oklahoma City is a better team but Miami has more experience. The Heat should win but don’t count out the Thunder.

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