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7 lessons Brands can learn from Tim Duncan
CloudCherry | Featured | April 27, 2016
He is, undeniably, one of the greatest players to grace the sport of basketball. And a part of his greatness comes from the evident truth that he is as unassuming as he is reserved, as much a prankster as he is a philanthropist, as enviable a sports person as he is a thorough team-player. The name’s Timothy Theodore Duncan and the game is simple, intelligent basketball.
Tim Duncan, as he is known, is an American professional basketball player hailing from St. Croix, a county, in the US Virgin Islands. He has played his entire career with the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA (National Basketball Association). Celebrated both on and off the court, Duncan was an indispensable machine since being selected as the No.1 draft pick in 1997 by San Antonio Spurs.
We decided to look back on his career and come up with 7 lessons that brands can learn from Tim Duncan.
Timmy is considered the greatest power-forward the NBA has ever seen. He’s a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, three time NBA finals MVP, and a 15-time NBA All-Star. With a career as illustrious as that you’d probably imagine he was just born to play ball!
Actually, not. Not too many people are aware of this, but Timmy started out as a swimmer. As an aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, Virgin Islands (where he originally is from) lost its only Olympic-sized swimming pool and this is what prompted Tim to take up basketball – a sport he had never played until Grade 9!
Coping with a grave loss by simply redirecting all that focus is a lesson for every Brand. You simply cannot be on top of everything, all the time. So when you cannot fix a certain situation, turn things around to your favour instead of obsessing over the loss.
We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again – A Brand is a Promise and the success of a brand depends on how consistently and dutifully the promise is kept.
Here’s an amazing lesson to learn from Tim. When he was a teenager, his mother was dying of breast cancer. She made him promise that he will get a college degree, no matter what. While most other NBA players start their basketball career while they are still high schoolers, Timmy wasn’t one of them. At 14, he turned down the NBA to go to college. The scent of stardom and wealth did not tempt him because he had a word to keep. He joined the NBA after he received a degree in psychology – only after he honoured his word.
Honouring your promise is vital to your Brand’s success. An unconditional commitment to your customers is crucial to how they perceive you as a brand. Make it your priority now or you can lose them forever.
There is a reason why Tim Duncan is called The Big Fundamental– and this is it. He is not about flamboyance, but simply about getting the fundamentals right!
Every player the San Antonio Spurs has seen since Tim Duncan joined them, has been influenced by him. His uni-dimensional focus has not only helped them improve their game but has also taken them to newer heights. It is called integrity – to the team, to the coach and to the sport itself.
“He’s not throwing behind-the-back passes, he’s not doing tomahawk jams, he’s not doing anything that’s very flashy. He’s just a very unassuming guy who goes about his job, and the next thing you know he’s got 23 points and 20 rebounds. ”
– Veteran NBA coach Byron Scott.
Get your fundamentals right and master it in all its simplicity. And yes, delivering a great customer experience is also all about the basics – creating an organization-wide customer-centric culture, empowering your employees, satisfying basic customer needs before you can think any further. Keep in mind – Technology is just a support lever. When you have done the groundwork to align every person in your organization towards the customer, wonders will eventually happen!
Considering that theCoach of the San Antonio Spurs – Gregg Popovich – used to serve in the Army, Timmy and him seem like a match made in heaven. Even if he was the most important player in the team, it never seemed so because that is the kind of trust and respect Duncan has placed in Popovich. Everything he does is for the team and not in search of personal glory. He understands Popovich’s way, and he trusts him completely.
Most other teams depend on special players and their individual talents for their success, but the Spurs play together as a team, as a unit, and their success is built upon a coordinated effort rather than individual brilliance alone.
There is no way a team will survive for that long unless the sense of belonging is unshakable. Your team is that pillar upon which your entire brand’s image and future rests. So, are you sure you have the right strategy in place to keep your employees happy?
You’ve probably seen Zach Lavine’s fancy dunks, Russell Westbrook’s explosive style or Rajon Rondo’s flashy assists. Standing desolate, in stark contrast to every other team, the San Antonio Spurs and Tim Duncan play a brand of Basketball that is seemingly so basic, that the intelligence, the intricacy, the movement and team work involved escapes all but the most discerning eyes.
All season long people have made such a big fuss about Kobe Bryant and his final season. While nothing much has been heard about Duncan or his future at all. But that sort of describes the kind of person Duncan is really. A no nonsense, just do your business kind of guy. He doesn’t scream, or shout or intimidate his opponents, he doesn’t make his emotions evident, doesn’t get carried away by any situation.
“I remember one time Kevin Garnett was mushing him, and shoving him in the face; and Tim Duncan didn’t do anything, he didn’t react. He just kicked Kevin Garnett’s a**, and won the damn championship. You know what I’m sayin’? That’s gangsta…” – Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace
Being humble lets you focus on the right priorities. This is something every business must remember because to remain unfazed means to remain consistent. And a brand that delights customers consistently is sure to soar unparalleled heights.
In 2008-09, Duncan was diagnosed with a degenerative condition in his left knee. Given his age then, everyone assumed it was going to be the end of his career. To make things worse, he had the worst season of his career the following year. Anyone in his shoes, would have taken that as a cue to exit stage. But Duncan, being the rock he is, dropped 25 pounds to reduce the stress on his knee and won a championship after that. He might just win another one by the end of this month. That’s Timmy for you. An inspiration on why you should never give up.
Popovich: “If you see him walk, that one leg doesn’t even straighten out (because of knee injuries). Obviously he doesn’t have the athleticism he used to have. But the guy is uniquely intelligent as far as knowing what his strengths and weaknesses are. He looks very cold-heartedly at himself…and says, ‘This is my age, this is my body. What do I have to do (to play)? ‘”
Leave no stone unturned when it comes to your business. The show must go on, no matter what it takes. There will be periods of downfall, periods where profits plummet and customers leave, but it is imperative you find a way out. Rising above all adversity will only put your brand in a demi-god status with worshippers in the form of loyal, die-hard customers.
Truth be told – We had a tough time picking out the best quotes about Tim Duncan simply because of how many quotes there are! What was even more surprising is that even the worst of his rivals had but lovely things to say about him. This is only because he has managed to bring back beauty into the game which somewhere was taken away from basketball.
Stephen Jackson, Spurs teammate: “The good thing about Tim, his love for the game doesn’t go anywhere. The older he gets, the more he dedicates himself to the game. ”
Hall of Famer David Robinson: “No question he’s the greatest power forward ever. It’s hard to compare anyone to Tim. He’s in a class by himself. ”
Shaquille O’Neal, former rival: “The Spurs won because of Tim Duncan, a guy I could never break. I could talk trash to Patrick Ewing, get in David Robinson’s face, get a rise out of Alonzo Mourning, but when I went at Tim he’d look at me like he was bored. ”
In this age of extravaganza and pretence, seldom do we find stories that genuinely delight. Be that story that people will remember for its worth and not for anything else.
If you too are ready to delight your customers consistently and make them your Big Fundamental, we can be to you what Gregg Popovich was to Duncan and we’ll show you the way!