As the world gets a glimpse of the Golden State Warriors starting core in the Rio 2016 summer games, I want to go back to 2015 after GS secured a historic 16 consecutive wins to open the season. At the time, Head Coach Steve Kerr was out having underwent back surgery, placing the responsibility of the X’s and O’s on assistant coach Luke Walton.  In an NBATV broadcast following GS’s 16th win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Warriors commentator Laurence Scott introduced viewers to a story about the team’s core values.  The broadcast included insight from Coach Walton and the Warrior’s power forward Draymond Green.  It also included a shot of a dry erase board in the Warrior’s lockeroom with the following core values written in the order listed below:

Competition
Compassion
Mindfulness
Joy

Written in another marker color below the main four was a note that read 5th Man “Togetherness”.

My younger brother Josh got all of us brothers involved in assisting the Team USA basketball club.  He’s been coaching the group for close to five years now.  Like any team, the squad has experienced plenty of ups and downs. Thinking about some of the team’s struggles at the time, I was inspired by what I saw on the Warriors broadcast about their core values.  I thought about how those core values that Coach Kerr instilled as a foundation for the team’s success would translate over to a children’s basketball club.

In the NBATV broadcast Coach Walton mentioned “joy” was the most important of the core values.  He talked about how important it was to have fun, especially since an NBA season is so long.  By the time the Finals ended in 2016, the Warriors played more than 100 games.

After watching the broadcast, I thought about coming up with our own core values that we could share with the children of Team USA. Coach Walton only mentions four core values in the broadcast, but on the dry erase board there was reference to a 5th, “Togetherness”

For our squad we kept “Togetherness” as one of our values that we simply refer to as Together.  We promote ‘Together’ as a value to say that we win and lose as a team, together.

The next core value inspired by the Warriors concept of fun, we changed to Play.  Regardless whether we win or lose, everyone or “every1” must have the opportunity to ‘Play’.  This core value was also inspired by an old Santana song titled ((Let the Children Play)).

Play is followed by the core value of Learning.  Even the greatest of the great will tell you how much they continue to learn and the importance of practice.  So for our squad, we identify each practice and game as a learning experience.  And following the each one teach one philosophy, we also believe that we all have something to teach ourselves and each other.  Therefore, we consider our failures and accomplishments ‘Learning’ experiences.

Our next core value is Work.  While we want to stress the importance of having fun, we also emphasize the importance of respecting hard ‘Work’ as essential to becoming the best we can be.  We emphasize this through our commitment to practice and other responsibilities in our lives that make us whole.  Whether that’s commitment as a student to school and teachers, commitments as a big brother or big sister, commitment to our parents, commitment to church, and our general commitments to help each other excel.

Our final value for our children’s basketball club is Friendship.  I was inspired by Coach Kerr’s core value of compassion.  Instead we chose the word ‘Friendship’ to help our players understand that as teammates they should care about each other.  Beyond the court, our intent is to promote a bully free environment that children can begin to conceptualize through the values of friendship.

At the end of some of our practices we ask children from the Team USA basketball club if they remember the five core values.  At times we’ll also focus on one core value at a time and connect it to something we learn during practice.  For example, if the children are fatigued from running and putting in work during drill stations we’ll discuss the importance of ‘Work’.  If we notice kids getting upset with one another during practice we’ll emphasize values of ‘Friendship’.  If we come off of a big win or loss from a city league game, we’ll talk about what it means to experience those moments ‘Together’.  Or if one of the children is getting better at a particular basketball skill that they want to demonstrate to the team, we highlight these moments as ‘Learning’ moments.

These core values help provide structure and opportunities for coaches, youth athletes, and families to reflect on their involvement with the game of basketball.  Our athletes are still in the beginning stages of their development as adolescents and how they think.  For many, its their first time stepping foot on a court for organized play.  It’s a special time for how they see themselves and imagine their futures in the game of hoop.  It’s a game that can open up a lifetime of healthy activity and that has the potential to compliment academic improvement, community involvement, and even professional opportunity way into their adult years.

If you run a basketball club for youth and have or are planning to develop your own set of core values we’d love to hear from you.

Assistant Coach Lee


References

Scott, Laurence. “Warriors Core Values.” NBA.com. National Basketball Association, 25 Nov. 2015. Web <http://www.nba.com/warriors/video/teams/warriors/2015/11/25/1448494486160-warriorswednesday112515web.mp4-137435>.