Words & Sports

What Tim Duncan Can Teach You About Consideration for Others

At the end of the 2016 NBA Regular Season, I was driving to an appointment while listening to NBA Radio on SiriusXM. Expecting to hear a conversation about the upcoming playoffs, I instead heard an interview with former Wake Forest Basketball Coach, Dave Odom. Odom was discussing the legend that is Tim Duncan, who was likely to retire from the NBA after a career as one of the best basketball players ever.

Odom was the one who originally recruited Duncan to Wake Forest. Social media didn’t exist yet, so recruiting a native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, like Duncan, wasn’t easy.

Dave Odom flew all the way to St. Croix to see this young player he’d heard so much about. He found Tim Duncan at the playground basketball courts, but was surprised to see that the boy wasn’t playing. When Odom asked him why, Duncan explained that he didn’t want to get stuck on a bad team because if he lost he’d have to sit out for a long time. He preferred to wait a game or two before hopping in.

Part of the reason that he didn’t want to sit out was that he knew Coach Dave Odom from Wake Forest was in town and he wanted to make sure Coach got to see him play, after coming so far.

This is a high school kid. Not many that age are really thinking about other people’s time in that way, but Duncan was. Dave Odom was touched and impressed—and that was the beginning of a startling career, first at Wake Forest, then as a five-time NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs.

Being considerate matters.

Consideration is often overlooked in business. You hear a lot about taking care of number one, and yes, you do need to take care of you. But you need other people to take care of you, too. You cannot make it alone. Being considerate of others is part of how you earn consideration from others—and it’s the right thing to do. Sure, not everybody deserves your time, but when someone acts in good faith, you should respond in kind.

I come across both considerate and inconsiderate people. I’m sure you do, too. We had one situation this year with a very inconsiderate person. He wasted everyone’s time, but demanded everyone’s attention when it was convenient for him. He ran off key people at his company and burned bridges with friends, vendors and businesses. Even the people associated with those friends, vendors, and businesses were affected. He developed a very bad reputation purely because he was inconsiderate. That’s it. He wasn’t mean or vengeful, he simply didn’t respect other people’s time.

That’s not the kind of person you want to be. It’s not just about getting people to want to do business with you, though that’s important, too. It’s about how you’ll be remembered, what your legacy will be.

Tim Duncan’s legendary career began with an act of consideration—and he became known not just for being a great player, but for being a great person, a considerate person. That’s who you want to be.


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Image of the Tim Duncan of the Spurs was taken by Keith Allison under the Creative Commons 2.0 license