One of the most dangerous post-game habits in sports – and indeed in business – is natural overreaction. We are all promised wins and losses, ups and downs, success and failure. Making too much of these moments can be tragic.
Nevertheless we do it. Obsessed.
If you’re a fan of the Boston Celtics or the Golden State Warriors fighting for the NBA championship, you’ll be wondering what the heck went on in this series after the first two games. I mean, before teams even played a minute, the pundits (read the talking heads) and odds makers had eliminated Golden State, whose starters had 120+ finals experience, and Boston, whose players were boasting , well, zero finals .
That prognosis ended abruptly after the Celtics sent the Warriors off their deep bench with solid contributions in the first game. The storyline that emerged from this contest focused on Boston’s 21 three-pointers, a feat that led many to view Boston’s victory as nothing more than a torch passing from Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the greatest three-pointer of all time. to the Celtics sniper subs.
A popular pundit known for his dramatic reactions to individual performances said that “Golden State doesn’t stand a chance if Boston’s bench keeps shooting well,” and that if Boston wins the second game, Boston’s streak will be over.
It’s a good thing for Golden State that the pundit wasn’t their coach! Before the finals, Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters about the upcoming clash with the Celtics, “What I like is the two teams that are built mostly with patience and mostly through draft and development, player development and continuity,” Kerr said. “I think that’s good for the sport.”
Does that sound like someone who is likely to overreact when they see their team trailing 1-0 at home after the first game? You bet your deep-three it isn’t. Golden State made the necessary adjustments and relied on their preparation for the correct course. And in the second game, they came out and got revenge on Boston. Led by a Draymond Green-inspired “attitude adjustment” along with the Celtics’ unforced turnovers and cold shooting off the bench, Boston headed back east with their green tails between their legs.
How do you imagine Boston’s reaction?
The error of overreacting affects every aspect of our lives. It makes us too proud when we finish a long run on Saturday and then feel too down on Sunday at the BBQ where we ate that extra burger. One day you’ll feel like Usain Bolt; The next day, you kick yourself in the ass because you feel like Fat Bastard, Austin Powers’ villain. What you really hate about yourself in those moments – well, mostly on Sundays – is the loss of control and the blow to your self-image.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s the good news, by the way. You don’t have to reconsider every time something happens that doesn’t go according to plan. When an account is lost, or a meeting stalls, or revenue is disappointing. Seize the moment to grow, don’t overreact. We don’t have to be quick to point fingers to ward off mistakes, especially when no one else is particularly concerned, or at least not as much as we are. We can breathe deeply, be honest with ourselves, make a small adjustment, and come back stronger and wiser next time.
Dark stories circulated when Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, and again when Android phones cemented their lead in the smartphone market. But Tim Cook must have missed those memos, and Apple seems to have done well since then, doing what the Celtics will do in Boston if the Finals resume there tonight: keep popping up.
We wrote about the qualities that go into Golden State’s “championship DNA” in this space a week ago. And anyone who loves basketball and has seen the 17 green banners hanging from the rafters above the Celtics’ home court knows that the most important number to these Celtics is 18.
As Kerr noted in his calm, measured way, these are two teams that keep coming up. It looks like an entertaining and informative series. And if it is, it’s because the psyches of both teams didn’t fluctuate as wildly as the pundits. Great class there.