About 20 years ago Pat Riley wrote a book called “The Winner Within,” which was a business leadership book that used basketball teams, players, and situations as teaching tools.
In the book he describes the natural cycles that most teams often experience. These include The Innocent Climb where everyone starts to put the team first and move towards their goals.
The next stage is The Disease of Me when some players start acting selfishly and believing they are more important than the rest of the team. The Core Covenant is another term for the culture that is established among team members – sometimes the culture is productive and sometimes it’s negative.
In the 2014 NBA Finals all we heard about was what a great culture the Spurs have established. The fourth stage of the cycle is called Thunderbolts. Thunderbolts are those inevitable bouts of adversity that hit all players and all teams from time to time. How these thunderbolts are handled is usually the difference between success and failure.
The next to the last stage is The Choke which in this case is synonymous with underachieving and possibly failure.
The final stage in the cycle is The Breakthrough when teams and organizations realize that changes must take place. This could include personnel changes, leadership changes, or strategic changes.
If you ask me, these cycles that Pat Riley wrote about two decades ago describes perfectly the Miami Heat’s “Big 3″ era of the last four years. Did Reilly see it coming? Would things have been different if the Heat had beat the Spurs? I’m guessing only Pat Riley and LeBron James know for sure.