The Cleveland Cavaliers have accomplished quite a bit recently—most importantly, they won the 2016 NBA Championship a year after they lost it. It was an amazing feat.
Then the 2016-2017 NBA season started. And really, the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised along, running in first place in the Eastern Conference for almost the entire season. But starting in early January, they struggled. Not because they lacked talent—they weren’t suddenly a bad team—but because they didn’t respect the regular season of the NBA. They simply didn’t act all that interested in winning. As a result, they lost the number one seed in the Eastern Conference to the Boston Celtics and ended with a 51-win season. A solid record for sure, but far from a record of a team that should compete for an NBA Title.
And yet they very well could. They’re that good. And they’re still the number two seed. Personally, I’m going to root for them. I’m a city of Cleveland fan. But if the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2017 NBA Title, it will be incredibly bad for the NBA.
A lot of fans already see the NBA regular season as a long, drawn-out waste of time. Ratings were down this year as a result. But this year, the Cavs played as though those fans are right. As though the regular season were meaningless, and long as they did well enough to make the playoffs and stayed healthy, they could coast until the playoffs started. Then they could flip a switch, and all would be well. If this strategy works, if the team wins the title this way, then next year, all teams and fans will be waiting for the only season that matters, the playoffs. Meanwhile, the NBA will still have to organize—and pay for—the 82-game regular season. A disaster.
The process and the journey are incredibly important aspects of any long-term vision and goal. This is true in both sports and business. Of course, success is what most people are after, but if you can’t respect the process even a little bit, what success can you possibly achieve?
Image of the Steve Kerr was taken by the Michael Tipton under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license