Maturity turns out to be a pretty potent competitive advantage. Just ask Derek Fisher of the Lakers who, even at the age of 35, has been a game-changer during the team’s playoff run. And he’s not alone. The average age of a player on the Celtics is 29 and on the Lakers, the average age is 28. And even the kids are pretty deep on experience. The youngest player on either team is Andrew Bynum; though he is 22, he has spent a full five seasons in the NBA.
Accomplished veterans such as Fisher, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Kobe Bryant require a different kind of coaching. When the Celtics find themselves down in a game, Doc Rivers is often seen in the huddle reminding players to play together; he focuses on the big picture, and trusts the veterans to follow through in their own way. Lesson: You need to pursue a low-key management approach with a veteran team if you expect to succeed.
Your stars can only carry you so far, but your bench can sometimes surprise you by taking you farther still, as the Celtics learned in Game 4 against the Lakers. Glen Davis put up 18 points in 22 minutes, showing that even a sometimes contributor can make a big impact at an important moment.
You may think that mixing things up on the talent front will help you succeed. But in fact, it takes time to get a team to gel. The Lakers and Celtics have enjoyed low turnover both on and off the court, and it shows. Doc Rivers has coached the Celtics for seven seasons while Phil Jackson has been at the helm of the Lakers since 1999 (save for a period in 2004 and 2005). Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, the Lakers back-court, have played together for eight seasons - and made seven Finals together.
It’s sometimes fashionable to say that you should focus on your own business and forget about the competition. But sometimes getting in the competition’s face is both productive and satisfying. Case in point: Through the first six games of the Finals, the team that’s won the rebounding battle has walked away with the victory in each game. Similarly, sales might be more fun than operations, but both are essential to the success of your business. Follow-through counts, and it counts for a lot.