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Basketball Hitting The Net

Recently I had the fortune to chat briefly with 2018 Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash. He was watching his youngest child play in a basketball league. This wasn’t NBA level stuff for sure, the league is for 5-7 year olds on what we called back in my day “baby” or “mini hoops” (7-foot tall baskets that younger kids can get the ball up to the rim). Standing next to him, I asked Nash, “Remember those days?” His response may surprise you. He said, “Actually I don’t.” Let me explain.

Long before Phoenix Suns fans were chanting “MVP! MVP! MVP!” for Nash, he was a young kid in Canada playing…… Soccer. Turns out basketball wasn’t his sport of choice growing up, it was soccer. He told me he didn’t start playing basketball until he was 13. Six years after that he was leading the 15th seeded Santa Clara Broncos to a victory over the 2nd seeded Arizona Wildcats (my alma mater). At the time, it was one of the first 15-2 upsets in the history of the NCAA tournament. Three years after that, he was picked 15th overall in the first round of the NBA draft by the Suns, left to play for Dallas, came back, won two MVP awards, and the rest is history.

So what is the point you say? Good question…..

That brief discussion with Nash last Friday (during the opening weekend of March Madness where in 1993 the world first heard of this young Canadian hoopster) it struck me that he became a world class player in a sport that he didn’t really play a lot when he was young. It flies in the face of the “specialization” in sports that many parents push their kids towards today. What were once known as “helicopter parents” have honestly turned into “bulldozer parents.” Anyone that gets in the way of their kid’s misled pathway from age five to the pros needs to be pushed out of the way. It’s a sad society that some corners (not all) of youth sports in our country operate.

Rather than focus on that narrative, what can we learn from Nash’s pathway in what we do every day? Here is one idea…..

Maybe that person on your team, whatever that team may be (work, family, group of friends, etc.), is doing one thing, however later on they may become GREAT at another.

Your events person could become a great fundraiser (happened to my team once). Your marketing person might be awesome at event production and activation (that happened to me once too). That young basketball player in the middle of Kansas may take up golf later in life and someday win a major championship (see Gary Woodland).

No matter the pathway, every person has a different road in front of them. Often times, it is a journey that individual didn’t see for themselves until it takes root.

Look at your team. They may not be what they appear to be today. They may be something entirely different down the road, in a great way.

Encourage them to try different things. To test themselves. They may be an MVP in something (or somewhere) far different from what we all see today.

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