Updated: Nov 27, 2019
I wouldn't be a worthy Torontonian if I didn't have something to say about the Toronto Raptors today.
Now I'm no sports guru. Far from it. So I won't comment on the technical reasons for last night's Championship win.
But as another sort of coach, I'd like to reflect on the mindsets and attitudes that helped these resilient, talented, and capable players take home their first championship in franchise history.
You can adopt these ways of thinking to achieve greater resilience and achievement in your life.
As I watched the players and coaches being interviewed on TV after the game, I was struck by what they attributed their success to.
It wasn't dominance, or expertise or destiny.
Instead, it was learning, growth, humility and practice.
While the fireworks and horn-honking filled my ears, I took notes to make sure I captured every bit of wisdom. ( I may not have caught every word so forgive me for any errors.)
Here's my take-away from the Toronto Raptors about how to think like a champion...
Head Coach of the 2019 NBA Champions the Toronto Raptors
Asked about what it was like to win big in the NBA after spending his career in the G League.
"I didn’t care what level I was coaching at or what my job title was. I was just looking to learn and get better."
"I never got frustrated coaching in all those little gyms, I just wanted to learn."
Asked about the trust he gives his players, even when they have a bad night.
"You can’t play great every game, but you can try to play hard."
Winner of the Finals Most Valuable Player
Asked about bouncing back from multiple injuries and the disputes between him and his former team regarding his rehabilitation.
"A lot of people were doubting me. Thought I was faking an injury or that I didn’t want to play for the team. Going through that, I knew I had to make myself happy and no one else. And I have to trust myself. Doesn’t matter what anyone says, just trust yourself.
Know your goal, know your focus. Learn from situations and be wise."
On being recognized as the MVP
"I just kept striving and pushing. I ended up with the trophy, but everyone deserved it."
Originally from Cameroon, Spicy P's debut as a rookie in the NBA was also the first NBA game he'd ever been to in person.
On developing and improving as a player.
"I just tried to learn."
On hard work and team work
"Together we had this unit-- a bunch of guys who would go out there and work every day and try to be the best they could be. Everyone sacrificed everything for the team, for the greater good."
Not selected in the 2016 NBA draft, VanVleet found his own path to NBA champion status.
On coming through in the clutch (and humility)
"I’ve had some ugly nights where it doesn’t go in. I trust in myself, believe in myself. Trust the process and the work. There's not a book on how you close out a series. The ball just found me a couple times."
On knowing your strengths
"We know what each other brings to the table and those guys know what I bring as well."
Who apparently is such a mensch that when doing live interviews, he shakes hands with all the camera handlers in addition to the sports broadcasters.
On how to re-orient your thinking when you're not having a good night.
"I tried to do the little things and play for my teammates even when I wasn’t having a good night."
So there you have it folks...
Orient yourself to learning, be humble, trust yourself, know your strengths, play for the greater good AND YOU TOO can be a champ!