2016 NBA Finals: the Last Two Minutes
As we enter a new basketball season, I'm reminded of a lesson I learned at the end of last year's historic Championship Series.
Western Conference Champions - Golden State Warriors, led by MVP Stephen Curry
Eastern Conference Champions - Cleveland Cavaliers, led by MVP LeBron James.
Wrapping up a long and historic season for both teams, The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers scored exactly the same number of points within the 6 games of the Championship Series.
Through 46 minutes of play, they were tied 89-89. The entire season and championship depended on the last two minutes of this final game…
[It’s almost surreal to think that after an entire year of work and preparation, two teams would be EXACTLY even with 120 seconds left to play!]
LeBron's Key to Getting Ahead
During the playoffs, in hopes of performing at a higher level, LeBron James went blank on social media, as many successful performers have done. Some individuals question whether or not this was even necessary, but the majority didn’t think it would have mattered either way. After all, this Championship had some of the most elite athletes on the planet. Would reading a tweet or posting a comment really make that much of an impact on how well they played the game? Regardless of the opinions, a number of the other Cleveland players followed suit.
Golden State, however, took no social media stance. Why would it matter? They had the best regular season record in the history of NBA basketball and appeared absolutely unbeatable at times.
However, during that last stretch in the playoffs, it seemed that the team was oddly marred in social media drama.
LeBron Stayed Focused on the Game.
During one Golden State home game, a model who was sitting in the stands was attempting to distract one of the stars with her seductive looks. Seeming to have succeeded, there were mini conversations between the model and the player via memes and tweets all over social media.
Yet, LeBron was not phased and stayed focused on the playoffs.
Another Golden State star missed what could have been the championship winning game because he was suspended due to too many fouls. The foul that put him over the edge became the subject of much controversy the next morning, causing a flurry of social media
Yet, LeBron James stayed focus on the finals.
The wife of one Golden State player decided to stir up a social media storm by calling the game rigged and questioning the integrity of the officials and the league! As imagined, that ignited some unprecedented back and forth confrontation between an NBA wife and ESPN analyst.
Yet, LeBron James stayed focused on winning a championship.
The Final Two Minutes
When the final two minutes came, can you guess which team showed more focus and poise?
1) The talented team who had spent the last few weeks engaged in various media turmoil?
2) The talented team on a playoff social media blackout?
In the final two minutes, the winningest team in basketball history seemed to be floundering, yet the Cleveland Cavaliers never let up and stayed focused until that final buzzer.
Were there other factors that contributed to their victory? Undoubtedly.
Can we suggest that a few tweets caused one of the biggest upsets in NBA history?...No.
But when we simply lay out the facts and watch the game unfold, it’s tough to not at least acknowledge that FOCUS was a real issue.
What Can be Learned from this Championship Game?
In the pursuit of any endeavor, there will be an endless amount of factors that will contribute to your success or failure, but staying focused on the task at hand is insanely important and horribly underestimated.
4 Ways to Stay Focused
1) Drop a sports league and take the time to develop a new skill or talent.
2) Stay in for a night and read a success book vs going out.
3) Write out goal cards and talk about them often.
4) Seek out some new friends/mentors if the old ones are keeping you in a place of stagnancy.
Depending on how important your pursuit is, it’s ok to make some choices that people don’t understand. In fact, it’s typically a sign you’re making the right ones. When you have a big goal in front of you, it’s ok to get hyper-focused.
Not everyone will agree with what you’re choosing to do, but I’m pretty sure LeBron didn’t hold a mass opinion poll before he went on his social media blackout. He knew that choosing to do what others didn’t understand would be what helped him focus at such a high level and ultimately help his team win the Championship.
You can’t expect anyone to understand your plan if they haven’t been given your vision.
Let’s be clear: sacrificing and making changes in your life does NOT guarantee success. But it does help you to stay clear and focused on what you really want.
When the game is on the line, those tiny bits of extra mental focus may just be what changes the game.