What’s with these guys? It seems that we can’t get away from the story of “Will the Lakers be Able to Figure it Out?” Can they put ego aside like LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh in Miami or Garnett, Pierce, and Allen in Boston, or even like MJ and Scottie with the Bulls? The story is wrapped around ego, or how a player views himself, and it’s not just in the NBA. Walk into any grade school or high school gym, or into a college game of any level or gender, and you’ll observe a multitude of decisions affected by ego.
BASKETBALL – How should we properly handle ego?
Basketball players of all levels are influenced by the “ESPN Effect”- slow motion replays, instant analysis, top ten lists, and plays of the day. Ego (our sense of self or the way we view our ability or status in the game) is heavily influenced by outside forces. Unchecked ego can lead to poor basketball decisions such as players forcing passes, taking ill-advised shots, or gambling on defense. It also affects coaches and makes them unwilling to adjust their approach or willing to abandon their philosophy to prove their worth.
Basketball requires a level of confidence. One element of practice and individual skill development is to build a player’s confidence in his ability to perform, but confidence can often teeter on a fine line between an inflated ego and a frustrated and bruised ego. On the same team, a coach often has to deal with both – not an easy task! Since the NBA deals with the ESPN Effect more than anyone, it may be helpful to look at how NBA coaches deal with ego as outlined by Dr. Travis Heath, a psychologist working with the NBA, in his post The Art of NBA Ego Management. While the demands of the NBA are beyond most of us, it can be helpful to consider how those at the top level handle egos.
For the rest of us, players or coaches, it’s helpful to consider the forces that shape our ego. It takes self-analysis or certainly individual discussions between coaches and players. Players that use the perspectives of those who are not intimately involved with practice, workouts, and team activities often developed distorted egos. While there’s not much we can do about poor decisions related to ego during a game, the issues have to be addressed on a regular basis in practice and team or individual meetings.
LIFE – What shapes your ego?
For most of us, ego is a common issue in the workplace. How you handle your own ego,and the egos of supervisors or co-workers often determines your effectiveness and satisfaction in your job. Society will tell us that it’s all about the paycheck or about advancement. In that case, any of us can fall victim to our ego. Too often we fall into the belief that you have to push aside others to find success. Many find ways to exploit their ideas or their efforts to promote themselves, and often times, inflated egos prevent us from having an attitude of learning and accountability. Consider carefully how you view yourself in your work and how you allow others to influence your perception of your own abilities. Before making decisions, check your ego!
FAITH – Whose view is most important?
Scripture warns us to keep our egos in check. Paul writes in Romans 12:3:
3 . . .Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment . . .
but scripture also encourages us to not use other people’s views to determine how we feel about ourselves. God’s standards and God’s views truly are what should shape our ego and we can all agree with the popular statement, “God didn’t make no junk!” When David was anointed to be the next King of Israel, God told Samuel (1 Sam. 16:7):
7 . . . “ The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Ultimately, God’s view determines our worth, not the views of ourselves or those around us. Since He was willing to sacrifice His son on the cross, we can be assured that His confidence in us is high. It’s up to us to not let an inflated or bruised ego lead us into bad decisions.