Lessons learned from Antoine Walker

Predictably, the Bulls won the game against the Miami Heat in the first game 96-91. Great game. The refs tried to take the game away from the players by saddling PJ and Kirk with 4 fouls early, then reversed sides to foul out Shaq and call five fouls on Wade in the second half. I think we also just witnessed the great Luol Deng becoming a real player. I have no idea he shot 51.7 percent (!!!) from the field in the regular season. Anyway, this is not the reason I am posting.

In the momentum turning third quarter, a particular sequence that led to the above picture was as such:
  1. Antoine Walker engages in 1-on-1, drives the basket, and shoots a fade away jumper
  2. He gets blocked cleanly by Tyrus Thomas
  3. Antoine being Antoine, he complained to the refs as he jogged back on defense, presumably because he though that either he was bumped or that it was goal tending
  4. Meanwhile, his man Thomas ran full speed down court to receive an alley-oop dunk
  5. Timeout, Miami
  6. The above picture is poor Antoine sitting on the bench as the Miami coaches device something to stop the Bulls momentum.
Now, I have watched many Celtics games while in Boston and I found the above sequence completely predictable. Why does Antoine keep doing this? Making bad 1-on-1 judgments, bitching to the refs, leaving his man running wild, and then sulking as he returns to the bench. He has immense talent: big man who can dribble, pass, and shoot open threes. So what happened?

Whenever he hits a bad streak, he seems to forget that the objective of the game is to win at the end. He gets so focused on his own failures that he tries everything to rectify it... by trying too hard, bitching too much, and then blaming himself for the team's failure. Look, Antoine, maybe when Dino Radja was your second fiddle, you can take it all on. But you are playing with Shaq and Wade! Lighten up! Focus on the team.

And that, my friends, is my weak attempt to link NBA to MBA. My first job out of GSB will feature me as someone like an Antoine Walker - a compliment to a good team. I need to focus on the team and not just my own work.

Author's note: although I would love Antoine to read my blog, I hope he won't learn from it. His failure is key to the Bulls' victories.

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