Why Kevin Durant’s Decision Was a No-Brainer

Photo: Sporting News

Photo: Sporting News

Imagine if you received national condemnation for leaving the company you were with since college because you found a better opportunity for personal and career growth. You put your heart and soul into your first job, strived to do as much for the company as you could, and almost reached the pinnacle of your profession at that company.

But then, an opportunity arose at another company; one which may have even been a competitor. They offered you a chance to grow in your profession and perhaps a greater chance of reaching that career milestone that seemingly all great professionals in your industry are measured against. Why wouldn’t you take it?

That’s what NBA superstar Kevin Durant did. On Monday, July 4, he decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder (previously Seattle Supersonics); a team without a title in 37 years and just one conference championship since, in 2012. He opted to join the Golden State Warriors; a team that is a year removed from an NBA title and just a month removed from achieving the most wins in NBA regular season history. But people are upset.

People like ESPN sports personality Stephen A. Smith, who is paid to flamboyantly criticize others. Grown men in Oklahoma City are taking to burning their Kevin Durant basketball jerseys (sounds like bigger issues may be at play there). Other teams and fans are complaining that the “rich are getting richer.”

But how can you blame Kevin Durant?

Inevitably, all arguments about sports’ greatest players come down to “How many rings (aka championships) do they have?” It’s never, “Well they are the greatest because they never left their first team and they almost won it all one year.” Sometimes you give it all you got and it’s not enough in some situations. Just ask the Buffalo Bills teams from the early 1990s.

An athlete’s career is much shorter than us office warriors; their time to reach this type of opportunity far more limited. In any work environment, one should do the best they can and do all they can, not just from a personal development standpoint, but for the benefit of the organization. Sometimes there’s only so much an individual can do in that position as well. When you’ve maxed out the opportunity, it may benefit both employee and employer to look for a new fit.

So what communications lesson can be learned from this announcement? Maybe just one: It’s a shame on a day when the country is celebrating its independence – noted by leaving its original situation and moving to a newer and better opportunity – that many also took the chance to denounce someone for doing just that.

The Coach You Want Your Kid to Play For; The Leader You Want to Follow

David Belisle, CJ Davock, Trey Bourque

In the age of coaches acting like they’re auditioning for “The League” (see Friday Night Tykes), “The Association,” or “The Bigs,” it’s refreshing to see a coach come along that makes you think, “I want my kid to play for him” or “that’s a leader I’d follow.” One such coach emerged at this year’s Little League World Series (LLWS): David Belisle of the Cumberland, R.I. team.

Like a great leader of an organization, he gave two speeches at two very different times, but both equally hit the mark.

The first came as his team was initially winning their game on Aug. 16, but then fell to a rally and faced being down two runs in their final at-bat of the game. The second came two days later on Aug. 18, where another rally was not meant to be and their LLWS dreams ended.

View a snapshot of both speeches here and the full speech after the loss here.

In an organization there will be times when everything is going right, then a competitor closes in. Or you gave it all you got, but on a certain day, it just wasn’t enough. As a leader, how do you respond to your employees, your team, or your company? Simply, do what Coach Belisle did by following these tips based on some of the themes and sayings in his speeches:

Overcoming Adversity

  • Strike Self-Doubts: Remember what got you here; you have the skills to not only be here, but to succeed.
  • Self-Check: How do you feel? Did you like what just happened? If you don’t like it, do something to change it.
  • Stick It Out: The team had three outs left; the game wasn’t over. If there’s still time on the clock, then there’s still time to make a difference.
  • Strong Finish: You have the power to make a change; you are in control of what comes next; now let’s do it.

After a Defeat

  • No Finish Line Failure: Don’t let the journey be lost at the finish line. Look at what was accomplished up to that point.
  • Expression of Appreciation: “I’m proud of you” are words that can lift spirits like no other. Telling your team what their efforts meant to you as their coach/manager/boss lets them know you value their effort and they made a difference.
  • Keep it in Perspective: Despite the loss, the team was reminded that they made history getting that far and representing their town. Keep the big picture in mind.
  • Future Forecast: Great things are still ahead. The kids had a parade to look forward to, but they also had life lessons on overcoming adversity and working as a team. Going through tough times makes you stronger.

Coach certainly did it the right way. These same tips can work whether you’re leading an executive team of 20, or a group of 12-year-olds who just played their hearts out.