I admit it, I did not watch all of the NBA Finals games.  I was traveling and while in a hotel room flipping channels I came across the end of game 6.  It was an amazing game!  The Miami Heat needed the win to push to Game 7.  In an intense back and forth battle with the San Antonio Spurs, they came out on top.  Thursday evening, I stayed up late to watch Game 7.  Here are some lessons I learned:

Never Give Up

Both teams played hard to the end.  Anyone who watched the games saw great warriors.  No one gave up.  Both teams were exhausted but continued to push themselves.  At the end of game 7, I wondered if the Heat was going to just hold the ball and let time run out.  They didn’t. They went for another shot that put them farther in the lead and basically sealed the game.

We must never give up as we go through and deal with issues.  In our professional and personal lives hard battles are going to come and they may never feel like they are going to end, but we must keep pushing forward.  In the end, those that keep working are the ones who come out on top.

Practice makes perfect

LeBron James is getting a lot of recognition as a great basketball player.  People compare him to Michael Jordon and there is a lot of debate surrounding how great he is.  His final shot of the game was a jump shot.  This is a shot that he had been practicing because it was not his strength.  If we want to become great at something, we must practice.  I think it takes a lot of courage to pull out one of your weaker shots during a high stress situation.  To me, that reinforced the amount of practice that had been done.

We must work to become better.  It doesn’t just happen.

Even Professionals Miss (a lot)

Wayne Gretzky said “you will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  There were a lot of balls that were thrown up that missed the basket.  Layups, jumpshots, 3 pointers and foul shots, they were all missed.  What I feel is important is not that they were missed, but what happened after they were missed.  Everyone kept going for the ball.  No one stopped, pointed or stared at the individual who missed.  The game went on.  While every shot and miss is recorded, it is not discussed during the game.  The entire team keeps going and playing hard.  Later, they will sit down and the individual will look at where they can improve.

I found this infographic that talks about LeBron James’ shooting percentages in game 7 vs. the other games.    I am confident that James was well aware of his percentages going into game 7 and knew what he needed to do to improve.

We cannot be afraid to try.

 Leaders Keep It Together

As the pressure mounted, my focus turned to Duncan and James.  Both are clear leaders of their teams and both had to respond to the pressure that was building on each of them.  As the lead switched back and forth, the pressure only intensified.  And then ever so slightly, Duncan cracked….He missed two shots.  Normally, this would not be a big deal, but in this game 2 shots could determine the win or loss.  Then several of his teammates started to become desperate and a foul was called on them.  On the other side of the court, James was as cool as a cucumber.  His rate of play did not show anything but confidence and his team remained at the same pace they had all game.

When there is a stressful time, your true leaders will emerge.  They will be the ones that are calm and in control.  They understand that how they react affects others and will seek to temper everything about them to move their team to victory.

Only One Team Gets the Trophy

While we may all want to be winners, only one team will come out on top.  We may pacify ourselves by saying “next time,” or “that was our best game yet.”  In the end, there is only one winner.  If you are defeated, you must accept it and seek to change it the following year.  All teams must continue to work hard, practice and improve because as in life, the game will start again very soon.