When the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat take the floor tonight for game one of the NBA Finals, the spotlight will be burning brightest on the shoulders of the two biggest stars on each team, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. While it's widely believed that these two players are among the best players in the game, there is an interesting dichotomy between the two that can be a useful lesson for workers and businesses alike.
That dichotomy is particularly apt for businesses because of the similarities that basketball and business share. In both, teams rely on individuals coming together as a team to reach a common goal. Each player on that team has a specific and defined role and they are both led by a coach or manager.
Those similarities, however, only go to highlight the differences between the two biggest stars as well.
There may be no more divisive player in all of professional sports than LeBron James. At the age of 16, James graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, referred to by the magazine as "The Chosen One." His stature only grew from there as ESPN broadcast his high school games during his senior year. In 2003, the Akron, Ohio, native was the first overall pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers. After seven years in Cleveland, James joined the Miami Heat as a free agent in a highly publicized and televised television special, "The Decision," which drew significant criticism and shifted the view of James for many. This year, he won the NBA MVP, his third, but is yet to win a championship and has universally been criticized for the lack of a clutch gene as he just as often defers to others as often as he takes the shot himself late in games. Despite the criticism, James will likely go down as one of the greatest all-time players in NBA history for his unique and once-in-a-generation abilities.
Durant, on the other hand, has been comfortable in the small market of Oklahoma City, Okla. Durant is a three-time NBA scoring champion who was drafted second overall in the 2007 draft. The 23-year-old faced questions about his strength before getting drafted before getting drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, which then moved to Oklahoma City starting in the 2008-2009 season. Nonetheless, Durant has blossomed into a star in the NBA. He has been with the Thunder organization since being drafted and has been praised for his humility and smart public relations moves. One day before James' much-hyped decision, Durant went to Twitter to announce a five-year extension with the Thunder by saying "God Is Great, me and my family came a long way." The move was devoid of hype and press. Durant is one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA who relies on his unique blend of confidence, natural ability and work ethic to be a catalyst for the Thunder.
While the two players may have some differences, particularly in their work styles, there is no doubt that both styles have been successful for their respective teams. So whose game on the court do you mimic in the workplace?
You know you are a LeBron if:
- You are a team player willing to pass the ball rather than score every time.
- You love being the center of attention.
- Despite your track record of success, people still question your talent.
- You're the big personality in your office.
You know you are a Durant if:
- You are low-key.
- You are loyal to your current organization.
- You've had to prove yourself time and again.
- You have great confidence in yourself and your abilities.