The day after the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship, Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban was on ESPN's First Take. Cuban had some choice words for First Take's Skip Bayless.
Mark Cuban made some persuasive points. As media we do speak in generalities. We should be more factual and use specific game breakdown to portray successes and failures during a game.
I agree with the Mav's owner when he dismisses Skip's opinion that LeBron played harder or that the Heat "wanted it more" than the Thunder.
The exchange reminded me of a lesson I learned my first year as a Sharks Assistant Coach.
We were in Minnesota playing the North Stars. We never matched up well against the Stars. Actually we didn't match up well against any team that year. We were down 4 or 5 zip after two periods. I came down from my perch in the press box and I was not happy about the way we had played for 40 minutes.
Head Coach George Kingston and Associate Coach Bob Murdoch asked me what I saw upstairs and I started my rant. We were getting outworked. We weren't sacrificing. They have more heart. All those hockey cliches we spew out when we're mad. The generalities that Mark Cuban spoke about.
George Kingston let me go on and as usual "took it under advisement." However before I went back upstairs to the press box , George told me to come out to the bench for the third period.
I was excited because it was the first time I had been behind the bench in an NHL game and what I saw was nothing short of inspiring from a team that 15 minutes earlier I was dismissing as lazy.
I saw players skate as as hard and as fast as they could. I saw the Sharks give and take thunderous hits, block shots and make plays. I watched my team play to the best of their collective abilities but the North Stars executed better.
The North Stars won the game and after in the coaches room Bob Murdoch asked, "what did you think?"
"I think I've just been taught a lesson," I replied.
George Kingston just looked up, smiled and said "maybe."
I learned that the other team plays hard too. That both teams "want it". I learned that sometimes the other team is better. I learned that the game is darn fast and decisions and actions have to be made in a nanosecond. I learned that specificity is paramount when coaching. I learned as Jeff Norton, Sharks defenseman, used to say to me all the time, "the game is really easy from the press box."