[Quotable]: A Life Lesson from Steve Nash on the Importance of Resiliency

The October, 2018 Pull Up Podcast stuck with me all this time. CJ McCollum got current Brooklyn Nets Head Coach, Steve Nash, talking in great detail about the key to his success in going from a high school player that only received one scholarship offer from a school he had never heard of to a 2-time MVP winner and first ballot Hall of Famer. I cut out some of the basketball-specific stories that go along with these wise words in order to drill down to the life lessons on resiliency that can be applied to basketball, careers, or any challenges we face. So without further ado, here are some excerpts from the interview:

My biggest…my #1 thing when I’m judging a player’s development is their mentality. Confidence can come and go. Confidence is important, but resilience is the most important thing. So I think, in my situation, in your situation and in my situation, we both had a ton of resilience. We had the ability to come back the next day and want more, no matter how the day before went, no matter how much success or failure we had. We had the resilience to keep going day after day after day–it never waivered.

A quick anecdote: Barcelona, the soccer club, has an academy called La Masia, that’s produced thousands of pros–thousands that never played for Barcelona, but who went and played around the world. They also produced Leo Messi–in my opinion, the best player of all-time, and a bunch of really, really top pros that play for Barcelona. They always say that the number one predictor of success at La Masia is resilience, not technical skill, athleticism, speed, strength, ability. They get these kids that come to the academy and are the best of the best, they’re little geniuses with the ball, but that’s not the number one indicator of success. The number one indicator of success is resilience. Someone who’s been doing this for 100 years and has had some of the best players of all-time, and gets the cream of the crop as far as young kids in their region, if not in Spain, in the world, and its resilience.

So while I didn’t always have confidence, I had resilience. And I always think that it’s so important. I really think its something that should be taught when you’re 12 years old or younger….to message it to your kid or even guys on your team, ‘we’re going to develop our resilience muscle’. It’s just as big a part as growing your shooting, your quickness or your athleticism. How many talented players have you seen that don’t have the resilience or the mental toughness to fight, to come back and want more. You have to treat it as something that’s trainable, you have to message that to people whether they’re kids or adults.

I think for me, confidence was something that came and went until probably when I was 30. I changed my body in some respects. I dug way down and worked on building a foundation, taking away my default patterns, creating solutions.

I had a joy for the struggle every day and the plateaus never became a problem. A lot of people when they stagnate they lose steam and lose momentum. When I stagnated, it made me double-down and stick with it, and be more disciplined. I didn’t realize at the time but that was something within me, and natural to me, that was more valuable than shooting touch or vision.

It’s amazing how far just resilience took me, but I didn’t necessarily know it at the time, it was just my make-up, I had a huge passion to play, I loved living life obsessed with something, transfixed by it, and watching myself transform. That was a thrilling way to live. That gave me a lot of life. That gave me a lot of energy. No matter how much energy I put into it, it gave me more energy. I think a lot of people reach a plateau and its hard for them to keep going and its so important to enjoy the plateaus. I think these are things we should teach kids. You’re afforded the most from plateaus. The times you struggle, under duress, having adversity–those are the times that taught you the most or gave you the most strength.

Those are the building blocks that you want to look for in a player, in a developing player or attitude-wise. I didn’t necessarily meditate but I believe in it — I do on occasion. I didn’t necessarily visualize a lot, but I did rehearse in a sense, my practices were a rehearsal…I would take my practice at times and feel like I was in a game.

[Quotable]: Eddie Johnson on Why Intimidation is the Most Important Missing Ingredient in Deandre Ayton’s Game

(photo courtesy of Heavy.com)

Legendary NBA sharp-shooter and voice of the Phoenix Suns, Eddie Johnson tells us how the (lost fundamental) big-man skill of intimidation can help Ayton take the Suns defense to the next level, courtesy of the March 4th episode of Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast:

He’s got to understand that intimidation can become a major part of his game. He has to continue to grow to that, and don’t worry about it–what goes on between the lines, its just happens–you gotta be ferocious! When I played and I was getting ready to drive the ball, the few times I did–if I saw Kevin Willis there waiting on me, if I saw Bill Laimbeer there waiting on me, I thought two times about it. If I saw Buck Williams there waiting for me, I thought about it, because they would hurt you! And literally not hurt you on purpose, but they gave you the sense that if you come in here, you’re gonna hit some combustion man. And you kinda hesitate. And Ayton has to develop that. I think Embiid has that and that’s why he is in the running for MVP. That he will attack you, he will be very aggressive with you. And you tend to back off him knowing that he might. Ayton is intimidating. He’s one of the largest in the league, one of the largest we’ve seen. He has a tremendous body. And that attitude that he’s going to break the rim down every time he dunks instead of laying it up. And that his fouls mean something, like, you get 6–you should never end the game and have less than 3 fouls–never! There’s no value in saving fouls. Fouls are there for you to be able to hit somebody. And get to the point where if you’re playing the Phoenix Suns and you drive that ball, he’s in there waiting for you and he might block it or he might hurt you. And that tends to hesitate in the minds of many players and helps your defense even more. That’s what I want from him now more than anything.


For those who aren’t too familiar with Johnson’s all-world scoring, here’s a great article from NBA.com (with video) telling the story of the time he scored 43–in a half.

[Quotable]: Ryen Russillo on Kristaps Porzingis and How Expectations Can Erode Our Love of Emerging NBA Stars

Ryen Russillo on the recent Bill Simmons ‘A Clippers Conundrum, LeBron MVP Myths, Kyrie’s Resurgence, and the Ref Review Crisis‘ pod on why the fan/media love of young stars can erode quickly when expectations aren’t met:

For Porzingis, it’s just an availability thing which is always going to be an issue for him, forever. I don’t think he sucks, I think we got sick of him being unhealthy, and then we just move on. The predictability of a new player’s potential ‘star timeline’ is the most predictable thing that we do as fans and the media. Giannis is going to start facing it big-time–it’s already starting to happen to him a little bit. You’re new, you’re loveable, we hope you can be something we’ve never seen before, and then you aren’t and then you may not have the playoff success that you want, and then we’re like ehhh, we’re turning on you. I mean, Porzingis has never had playoff failures to even have any of us get upset about but, I think it’s all of us turning the page on him in a very “(inaudible at 54:41)” way that hasn’t really had too much to do with necessarily what his game is, it’s what his game isn’t, and he’s just not healthy.

[Quotable]: Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill on Why Ben Simmons May Actually Be Missing Time for the Sixers

Ben Simmons

In the January 11th, Posted Up pod with Chris Haynes, Yahoo Sports colleague, Vincent Goodwill comes with strong intel on what might really be happening with the Ben Simmons situation in Philly after a bizarre sequence of events where Philly was undermanned for Sunday’s game vs. Denver, placing Simmons on the injured list with a sore knee at the 12th hour, and then being fined $25,000 by the league the next day for doing so. Was he suspended by the team? Is he actually injured? Is he about to be traded for Harden? You decide:

The 76er’s decided that night [after Seth Curry being pulled from the 2nd half of game vs Knicks due to a covid-19 test that came back positive] we are going to stay in New York while everything gets sorted out. What I have gathered was that Ben Simmons left New York that evening. he left New York and went to Philadelphia. Gotta…you know…apparently probably hired a driver from a service…..the team clearly found out. Here’s the one thing that we do know, Chris, because of the restaurant protocols and everything else that certain restaurants in places that you can’t go to. There are no restaurants in New York City that are approved [by the NBA], so if a team is staying in New York City they need to stay there. Apparently Ben Simmons said, ‘nah, I’m out’…I’m headed out, got a driver, went back to Philly. I believe the team found out. And I believe team security, as you know, team security knows these things, they’re like the CIA, you know what mean? They know what the writers are doing. This is like some serious stuff. So, they find out, Ben Simmons has to come back…and ‘magically’ he ends up on the injury report the next day, not playing’. Who knows how you want to connect the dots.

[Quotable]: Zach Lowe on Steph Curry and the Difference Between Superstar ‘Floor Raisers’ and ‘Ceiling Raisers’

Very interesting question’s raised by Zach Lowe on the December 28th Lowe Post pod with 538’s Chris Herring, as they analyzed the early season struggles of the Golden State Warriors and what category of superstar player Steph Curry fits into:

The referendum on Steph is gonna be if the Warriors are just bad, right? The referendum is gonna be: LeBron’s teams are never just bad. Kevin Durant‘s teams are never just bad. Kawhi Leonard‘s teams are never just bad. James Harden is…James Harden can go to strip clubs 80 nights a year and he’s a walking playoff birth. It doesn’t matter — he’s a walking playoff birth. Why are Steph’s teams bad? If he’s a 2-time MVP, I don’t understand–why are his teams just bad? We’ve seen other players like Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday have bad teams in New Orleans. So that’s the discussion that’s going to happen, and I think part of it is, lets TBD the whole thing, we don’t know if they’re bad yet. And we have seen other superstars helm bad teams before, but we don’t know if the Warriors are bad yet.

I do think there’s a lot of truth to the floor raiser vs. ceiling raiser player archetype–that Steph’s skills are such that he can take an okay team and a good team and make them a supernova, but he’s maybe even less equipped than a guy like Russ to take a bad team and make them mediocre through sheer physicality. Like, why can’t you give the ball to Steph 20 feet from the rim in the triple threat possession 50 times a game? Well, he’s a pretty skinny dude and do you want him getting destroyed at the rim to get you 14 free throws a game? Can he do that every night? I don’t know, but I do know that his version of that is: I got two people on me 30 feet from the basket and if you give me anybody who I can pass to that can make the next play, we’re going to be alright.

[Quotable]: ESPN’s Jonathan Givony on Haliburton Pressuring Lottery Teams Not to Pick Him

I’m seeing a lot of frustrated fans asking ‘why didn’t WE draft Tyrese Haliburton?!” but they don’t seem to understand how his agent warned lottery teams NOT to pick him so he could end up in Sacramento. I think the reporting from Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) on this episode of the Lowe Post podcast may have slipped through the cracks on a lot of post-draft analysis by fans and writers alike:

People are like, how did Haliburton fall so far?!… a lot of this was by design. The consistent theme that I kept hearing in the pre-draft process from agents was, “I hate the teams that are drafting in the top 10. I don’t want my guys with any of those franchises.” And so, they were very selective with who got medicals and they were openly telling teams, “don’t take my guy, please.” So I think, that is a big reason why Haliburton ended up going 12. He… he could have gone 6, I think, had he wanted to, but he was open to, you know, “let me sacrifice $7, 8 million because I think it’s going to end up working out in the long term with Sacramento”… and Zach, how many times can you say a player wants to go to Sacramento?! It’s incredible!!”

[Quotable]: Ryen Russillo on Adjusting Expectations for a League Without a Big 3

Ryen Rusillo on the recent Bill SimmonsOver/Under Mega Preview‘ pod on why we need to adjust our perspective after last season’s shift away from franchises fighting to build super teams in order to win championships:

We spend a lot of time, if we had doubts about the Lakers, asking who the 3rd guy was all the time. If you look around the league right now, we kept asking ‘who’s that 3rd guy’s gonna be’, because of who Golden State was, then because of who the Miami Heat were, and then what Cleveland was once they brought Love in and returned there with Kyrie. There’s not really that 3 that scares you anymore. So, we kept looking at the Lakers wondering who the 3rd piece was, like it was mandatory to consider you a real title threat to have that third guy. You don’t really need it. You don’t really need it, because you’re not facing that Heat team, you’re not facing that Warriors team, or even that Cleveland team when things were right in ’16. So, it’s an important thing to remember about all of these teams chances. Stop using the ‘where’s the 3rd guy’ argument against us. And that was the lesson in the Lakers last year.